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Why Do Eyes Change Color?

Some people will notice that as they age their eyes start to gradually change color. This may be cause for concern as people may view this as unnatural and startling to some degree. There are actually a few different reasons why eyes change color and while some are somewhat concerning, others are perfectly natural.

Eyes get their color from two factors: number and color of Melanin. Melanin are the pigment granules that are present in our eyes. These granules can be anything from neutral to very dark brown. Naturally, the darker the pigment is, the darker the eyes will be. Also the more of these granules that are present, the darker the eyes will appear.

Brown eyes have the largest number of granules with the darkest pigments, blue eyes have the lowest/lightest granules. People with green/hazel eyes have the medium amount of granules with a relatively neutral colored pigment.

This is relatively easy to understand, but does little to explain a change in eye color. It has been shown that the Melanin in the eyes have been known to change in quantity. This will result in the change of the color that we can notice.

The most concerning cause is disease. There are certain diseases or conditions that can cause an individual’s eye to drastically change color. They include but are not limited to Fuch’s heterchromic iridocyclitis, pigmentary glaucoma, and Horner’s Syndrome. If you notice your eyes changing color, it would be wise to contact your eye doctor for an examination.

The most common cause of eye color change is aging and it is completely natural. Roughly 15% of people experience eye color change in their lifetime, which makes it fairly common. For most, aging usually with age, however hazel and blue eyes can darken. Babies eyes are known for changing color rapidly, especially those of Caucasian decent. This is because the pigmentation in the eye has yet to change or settle in, which results in this rapid change.

Apart from just getting lighter, eyes may also appear to become yellow as opposed to white. This is referred to as icterus and is usually nothing to be concerned about. There are some instances where this is a sign of a more serious condition, and if you are concerned, a trip to the eye doctor would be a valid precaution.

There are also instances where the eyes can just appear to change color based on background and lighting. It has been observed that while yellow light can make blues eyes seem green, wearing green can make hazel eyes seem greener. While the eyes themselves do not physically change, it appears as if they do. This is a useful tip for someone who wants to make their eyes “pop.” 

By: Peter Cusumano

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