What Determines Eye Color?
A person’s eye color is found in the iris. Cells called melanocytes produce various levels of pigment called melanin. Melanin not only provides color, but also absorbs light, acting as an added layer of protection from UV rays.
Brown, the most common eye color, is produced by an abundance of melanin. Blue, a more rare eye color, does not occur because of blue pigment in the eyes. It occurs because there is a lack of melanin, causing the light to separate into a color spectrum, a similar phenomenon that causes the sky to appear blue.
Albinism occurs when there’s a deficit of melanin in a person’s hair and eyes.
Can Eye Colors Change?
You may have noticed babies who are born with lighter colored eyes, like blue or gray, develop into a darker color as they get older. This is because melanin production is activated by light and may continue to be produced within the first couple years of life.
However, a person’s eye color does not naturally change as an adult. Episodes of trauma or ocular diseases can alter the appearance of the eyes, even resulting in a person having two different colored eyes. Some eye drops, such as prostaglandins used to treat glaucoma, can alter the pigmentation of the iris, resulting in patches of pigment or darkening of a person’s iris.
Can We Change Our Eye Color?
The safest and easiest way to artificially change eye colors is colored contact lenses. If you are interested in trialing a pair, call the office for an appointment.