Your Blue Eyes Are Actually Brown

We don't know what to believe anymore...

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by Katie Rosseinsky |

Spent your whole life secretly thinking that your deep blue eyes are your best feature? Prepare to re-evaluate everything you thought you knew about yourself: science proves that there's really no such thing as blue eyes because all eyes are actually brown.

It’s all down to melanin, which not only determines the colour of our hair and skin, but our eyes too. Speaking to CNN, optometrist Dr. Gary Heiting (also the senior editor of eye care website All About Vision) explained that ‘everyone has melanin in the iris of their eye, and the amount that they have determines their eye colour. There’s really only [this] one type of pigment’ – and that’s brown.

Melanin can absorb a varying amount of light: the more melanin in the iris, the more that it will absorb, so less light is reflected back out. This means that the iris appears darker brown in colour. People with blue eyes have less melanin in their iris, so it absorbs less light and more is reflected out. As the light scatters it reflects at shorter wavelengths, which sit at the blue end of the colour spectrum, accounting for the colour that we see.

What about other eye colours? If brown is our maximum point and blue is our minimum, the amount of melanin in the iris of those with green or hazel eyes sits somewhere in the middle. This means a different amount of light can be absorbed, so different colours reflect out – which is why some people’s eyes can appear to change colour in different light settings. ‘It’s an interaction between the amount of melanin and the architecture of the iris itself,’ Heiting explained. ‘It’s a very complex architecture.’

And if you were a blue-eyed baby whose eyes got darker later on, melanin accounts for this too. When babies are born, their melanin is still forming, and due to a lack of pigment, their eyes will appear blue, though often darken as they get older. According to Dr. Heiting, ‘as a baby develops, more melanin accumulates in the iris.’

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