What Gives Your Eyes Their "Color"?

We are often drawn to people with striking eye   appearance, and when we see someone with beautiful eyes it is usually due to their eye color. The structure in our eye that appears “colored” is called the iris. The iris is a flat disc made of layers of overlapping fibers with a hole in the middle known as the pupil. The pupil appears to be the black, round center within the colored part, or iris of the eye. It is interesting to note that the pupil isn’t actually an anatomical structure, but a hole in the iris. The color of the underlying structure of the iris in everyone is blue, but it is the addition of the pigment Melanin that gives us our varying eye colors. Melanin is the same molecule that causes people to have skin of different shades, causes freckling and is stimulated by sun, causing us to tan. Eyes with little or no melanin in the iris appear more blue. Add more melanin and they take on a green appearance and the eyes with the most melanin appear hazel or dark brown. The amount of melanin attached to your iris is determined by the genetics of your ancestry and is usually fixed for life. There are some disease states that cause a decrease in melanin attached to the iris, so people with these conditions may note a lightening in eye color over time.

Eyes that are blue might look bluer in bright light. The reason is that the pupil is smaller in bright light, therefore there is more of the colored “Iris” apparent and less of the small, dark pupil hole.

Be sure to check out our previous post, pictures of beautiful eyes from around the world. Later to day I will post some bizarre and funny eye pictures as well. Visit www.youreyesite.com for more information on eye and vision care issues.

Courtesy of the Doctors of Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care; Optometrists, Ophthalmologists and Opticians serving the Rockville, Gaithersburg, Potomac Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC for over 45 years.  connect with us on twitter @EyeInfo

Copyright 2010 – Dr. Alan N. Glazier, Optometrist, Rockville, MD – all rights reserved


One Response to “What Gives Your Eyes Their "Color"?”

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