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Why are my eyes blue?

rainbow_eyeThe part of the eye responsible for eye colour is the iris. It sits behind the cornea, and controls the amount of light entering the eye by adjusting the size of it’s central aperture, the pupil.

The colour the iris appears is due to the amount of pigment present, which scatters light entering the eye. Contrary to what you might think, there is only one type of pigment present in everyone’s iris;  a brown-black pigment called melanin. The actual pigmentation of all irises varies from light brown to black, depending on the concentration of melanin in the iris pigment epithelium (the layer at the back of the iris), the stroma (the main body of the iris) and the density of the stromal tissue.

There is no actual blue or green pigment present, so how are our different eye colours created?

The answer is that brown eyes have a higher concentration of melanin and therefore appear darker. Paler eyes such as blue or green have a much smaller amount of pigment, and their colour mainly depends on the way light is reflected and absorbed by the various iris components.

Eye colour is an inherited trait, but the process is complex and not fully understood, so as yet there’s still no completely reliable way to predict your children’s eye colour!

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