Have you ever stared at someone with blue eyes and were awestruck of how beautiful and piercing their eyes are? Well, as it turns out, they aren't really blue. They are actually brown. Blame science.
According to Dr. Gary Heiting, a licensed optometrist and senior editor of All About Vision, all human eyes are brown thanks to this thing called melanin. Melanin is the pigment that determines our skin and hair color, and apparently, it can be found in our eyes as well.
"Everyone has melanin in the iris of their eye, and the amount that they have determines their eye color," he told CNN. "There's really only (this) one type of pigment."
Shocking, I know. According to Dr. Heiting, there's really only one shade of melanin. And surprise, surprise, it's brown.
Melanin has the ability to absorb varying amounts of light. The more melanocytes (miniature melanin cells) you have in your iris, the more light is absorbed and less light reflected out, leaving your eyes appearing more brown.
The opposite is true for the blue-eyed folks. Having blue eyes means you have less melanin in your iris, resulting to less light being absorbed and more light being reflected out. This is also known as scattering. When light is scattered, it reflects at shorter wavelengths along the blue end of the light color spectrum, corresponding to a certain color: blue.
For those with green and hazel eyes, you fall somewhere in the middle. Your eyes contain different quantities of melanin, resulting in different levels of light absorption, and different colors reflecting out. The color hazel is considered a mixture of eye colors, as per Dr. Heiting.
Now you also know why you had blue eyes as a baby. When babies are born, their melanin is still forming, which results to their eyes appearing blue. "As a baby develops, more melanin accumulates in the iris," said Heiting. Their eyes may still darken overtime.
Genetics also come into play. It is widely believed that if someone has brown eyes (or appears to be brown), the chances of them having a child with light eyes is unlikely. This is simply not true.
Eye color is a polygenic trait, meaning multiple genes are involved. So if you have dark eyes and you want a child with light eyes, hope is not lost. Dark-eyed parents can certainly produce light-eyed children. And light-eyed parents can spawn a dark-eyed child.
Science is awesome.