The colour of our eyes is attributed to our genetics and is determined by two factors: (1) the pigmentation of the iris and (2) the way light scatters around the iris itself. Let’s unpack both of these factors.
Pigmentation of a person’s iris ranges from darkest colour, dark brown to the lightest colour, blue. The concentration of colour is determined by the amount of melanin present in the eye.
The appearance of green and shades of green (i.e. jade, hazel and emerald) are the result of an anomaly known as Rayleigh scattering; this is a term used to describe the way light scatters off of the molecules of the air, after riding its spectrum wavelength.
Most people mistakenly believe that colours like green and blue are in the iris – but they’re not. Your eye colour is a function of how light diffuses across the melanin base, which again is genetically determined.
Until recent studies, scientists believed that your eye colour was determined by one dominant gene. The assumption was that an eye colour hierarchy existed with shades of brown being at the top of the ladder and shades of blue on the lower end. In short, if your Dad had blue eyes and your mother had brown, it was believed that by default you would be born with brown eyes. Or alternatively, if both parents had the same colour eyes, you would then have the same colour eyes as your parents, otherwise known as recessive jeans.
The new research suggests that as many as 16 genes may influence the way colour is expressed in the iris. This basically means we can be born with just about any eye colour, regardless of what eye colour our parents have, however, the hereditary variables need to be factored into the equation.
It is important to mention here that any race can have green eyes. Still, the appearance of green eyes remains rare. It is said that only 2% of the world’s population have green eyes.
While this might be very interesting and informative at Vision Works we are far more concerned that you take care of eyes. If you don’t know how best to love your eyes, contact your local Vision Works and book an appointment with us. We’re more than happy to help.