Do you know where your eye color comes from?

Several sources report that only two percent of the world’s population has green eyes, making it the rarest eye color. However, violet, amber and black eyes are also uncommon, while brown eyes are the most common. Whatever the shade of your eyes, it’s unique to you. Embrace it! And, if you ever wondered how you got your eye color, keep reading.

What determines eye color?

Eye Color

The above graphic presents a general illustration of the type of dominant melanin responsible for different colored eyes.

The colored part of your eye is called the iris, and it’s actually a muscle that controls the pupil and the amount of light that enters the eye. Multiple genetic traits can impact eye color by influencing the amount of melanin or natural coloring found in the iris.

Remember when your high school biology teacher made you use that chart to predict eye color by using traits from the parents and grandparents? Well, that’s wrong. (You can put that on the false facts list right after the planet Pluto.) Turns out, genetics are even more complicated than what we were taught. Variations of your genes influence the production and storage of melanin, including the type of melanin.

Your eye color

There are two types of melanin or pigments that make up eye color, eumelanin (blackish brown color) and pheomelanin/lipochrome (reddish yellow color). Everybody has the blackish brown melanin, eumelanin, in the back of their iris, except those with albinism (without pigment in their skin). But, the type and amount of melanin in the front of the iris are important to eye color or reflecting eye color.

The human iris is made in a way that interferes with visible light entering the eye. So, your eye color is a result of light particles scattering through the iris that are reflected back out. (The same way light scattering gives us a “blue” sky.)

The very low levels of melanin scatter light and reflect blue light, projecting the color blue in blue eyes. Green eyes appear when scattered blue light mixes with the yellow color of lipochrome. (This is the same occurrence with Glad Zipper Bags® for the “Yellow and Blue Make Green” seal.)

Therefore, the amount melanin is an important factor in human eye color. But, did you know that it can also be an important factor in your vision health? Learn how eye color can affect your health.