Why Do Eyes Turn Blue With Age?
- Pieter Maas
– Blue rings around the iris are caused by cholesterol deposits in the eye. The deposits are actually white or yellowish but can appear blue. This might sound dangerous, but it isn’t. Researchers estimate that this condition impacts anywhere between 20 and 35 percent of people, becoming increasingly likely as you age.
Why do people’s eyes change color when they get older?
Stay up-to-date with the latest from 20/20 Onsite – It’s not an uncommon thing to have wondered before if your eyes are capable of changing color. At some point or another, we’ve all wanted to have different eyes just to see what they’d look like. And as crazy as it may sound, eyes can absolutely change color! How does this happen? Let’s start with the basics. First of all, the iris is a muscle in the eye that gives it its color. With light, the iris can either expand or contract in order to control pupil size. The pupil shrinks when exposed to bright light, whereas it grows in dimmer lighting. When the pupil changes size, the pigments in the iris either compress or spread apart, which causes a slight change in perceived eye color,
- Age Babies are usually born with light blue or gray eyes, yet as they grow, their eyes often get darker. This is because eye color is determined by your genes and the melanin level on your body. As you grow up, the melanin level increases around your pupil, making the eye darker. However, 10-15% of Caucasian eyes change to a lighter color as they age, as pigment in the iris changes or degrades,
- Exposure to the sun Melanin production can be activated through solar exposure, meaning that a prolonged time exposure to the sun could make your eyes darker.
- Emotions Certain emotions can change the size of your pupil and the iris color. When you are happy, angry, or sad, your body releases a hormone that makes your pupil size change, When you’re happy or angry, your eyes usually become more vibrant, while when you cry, your eyes obtain a reddish color, making your eyes appear brighter.
- Clothing and makeup Darker clothes as well as some color makeup on your eyelids, or white eyeliner, are all things that can make your eyes look more vibrant and brighter, This is just a matter of perception, not reality, but your eyes will definitely pop a bit more than usual!
- Your diet They say you are what you eat, and for the eyes this is entirely true! The type of diet you keep will influence your eye color. Here are some of the foods that change your eye color if consumed often : Spinach: It’s richness in iron will make your eyes look younger and shine brighter! Organic honey: Regular consumption of honey could make your eye hue lighter and brighter. Fish: Consuming fish can increase your eye color strength and depending on the consumption, this changes could be permanent. Olive oil: Many people believe that adding olive oil to your diet could change the shade of your eyes. Onions: Regular intake of onion has shown gradual changes in eye and skin color. Nuts: Add different nuts to your diet and your eyes could gradually get a lighter color. * Note : Roasted nuts won’t affect your eyes since their nutrients (what might change your eye color) have already been destroyed by exposing them to high temperatures. Chamomile & Uva Ursi tea: eyes relax and pupil size changes, making the eye appear a different color (usually a warmer shade),
- Your health Your eye color can also change to a yellowish or greenish shade when you are unwell or if you have an eye disease such as : Horner’s Syndrome: A complication with the third cranial nerve. This disease could make the affected eye(s) change to a lighter color. Fuch’s Heterochromic Uveitis: A chronic mild inflammation of the front section of the eye. Pigmentary Glaucoma: In this type of glaucoma, the pigment on the back of the iris is disrupted and the loose pigment granules collect on the back of the cornea. This loose pigment could also collect on the front of the iris, changing the color. Medication for glaucoma c ould also affect the color of the eyes.
There are many reasons why your eyes may at least appear to change color. In certain cases, like eye disease and changes in your diet, your eye color may truly change. However, many times it is only a matter of perspective and elements that can reflect into your eyes, tricking the mind of those looking at you into thinking your eyes just changed into a different shade.
Can two blue-eyed people have a brown eyed child?
Can two parents with blue eyes have a child with brown eyes? Yes, blue-eyed parents can definitely have a child with brown eyes. Or green or hazel eyes for that matter. If you stayed awake during high school biology, you might find this answer surprising.
- We were all taught that parents with blue eyes have kids with blue eyes.
- Every time.
- This has to do with the fact that blue eyes are supposed to be recessive to brown eyes.
- This means that if a parent has a brown eye gene, then that parent will have brown eyes.
- Which makes it impossible for two blue-eyed parents to have a brown-eyed child – they don’t have a brown eye gene to pass on! In fact, this is the model we used for our eye color calculator.* And that we talk about extensively here at Ask a Geneticist.
Blue-eyed parents can have kids with brown eyes. (Image via Shutterstock) Now we aren’t being dishonest or trying to hide anything by presenting this model. It works great most of the time. But as with anything genetic, there are always exceptions. For example, DNA can and does change between generations.
- So if a change happened that turned a blue eye color gene into a brown one, then blue-eyed parents could have a brown-eyed child.
- As you might guess, this sort of thing is pretty rare.
- Too rare to explain all the exceptions we see with eye color.
- So something else must be going on.
- That something is most likely other genes involved in eye color that we don’t know about.
Eye color used to be presented as a fairly simple trait. A big part of the model was the idea that we had an eye color gene that came in two varieties – brown and blue. Geneticists represented the brown version as “B” and the blue version as “b”. The model also said that blue (b) was recessive to brown (B).
- This matters because it is an explanation for how brown-eyed parents can have a blue-eyed child.
- See, we have two copies of each of our genes – one from each biological parent.
- This means there are three possible combinations for this eye color gene: BB, Bb, and bb.
- BB is of course brown and in this model, bb would be blue.
Since blue is recessive to brown, Bb people have brown eyes. But they can pass a “b” down to their kids, who might end up with blue eyes. Now eye color is obviously more complicated than this. This model doesn’t explain green eyes for example. Scientists added a second gene to try to explain green eyes but we don’t need to go into that here ( to learn more about the two-gene model).
|Genes||What it Means|
|B b||Brown eyes|
|bb||Not brown eyes|
Again, bb people should not be able to pass on brown eyes to their kids. But we know they can. Which means that this model is incomplete (or wrong). The results I just put into the previous table are theoretical and based on the model I talked about. Here are some actual results I adapted from ‘s website:
|Genes||What it Means in Europeans|
As you can see, the original model holds up pretty well for BB and bb people. Most BB people have brown eyes and most bb people don’t. But the model clearly doesn’t explain the following:
- 1% of bb people have brown eyes
- 1% of BB people have blue eyes (and 14% have green)
- 44% of Bb people do not have brown eyes
The biggest disconnect is with Bb people. Only 56% have brown eyes. If this holds up, I am not sure we can even call blue and green recessive to brown. Whatever the reason, these data give some clues about how two blue-eyed parents might have a brown-eyed child.
For example, imagine two parents are Bb and have blue eyes. They each pass a B down to one of their children. That child will be BB and most likely have brown eyes. This example uses known data to show how blue-eyed parents might have a child with brown eyes. But it doesn’t explain why a Bb person has blue eyes in the first place.
To do this, we need to guess what other genes may be doing. And how they might be affecting the original eye color gene. Going into detail about these possibilities would need more space than I have here! And in the end, the truth is that eye color is a complex trait that we don’t fully understand yet.
How rare are grey eyes?
Gray – Close to 3% of the world’s population have gray eyes. People with gray eyes have little or no melanin in their irises, but they have more collagen in a part of the eye called the stroma. The light scatters off the collagen in a way that makes the eyes appear gray.
Why are the whites of my eyes turning blue?
Sclera: Definition, Anatomy & Function The sclera, or white of the eye, is strong tissue that wraps around the eyeball. It helps maintain your eyeball’s shape and protects it from injury. Several things can make the entire sclera change color or cause spots of color. Many scleral conditions resolve on their own in a few weeks, but some require medical attention. The sclera wraps around the eyeball. The sclera, or white of the eye, is a protective covering that wraps over most of the eyeball. It extends from the in the front to the optic nerve in the back. This strong layer of tissue, which is no more than a millimeter thick, gives your eyeball its white color.
- It also protects and supports your eye.
- The plural for sclera is sclerae.
- The sclera functions as the supporting wall of the eyeball.
- It helps maintain your eyeball’s shape, and protects it from injury.
- The sclera is covered by conjunctiva, which are clear mucus membranes that lubricate (moisturize) your eye.
Muscles attached to the sclera help move your eyeball up and down and side to side. The sclera is made of tough collagen fibers, which crisscross in random directions. That random pattern gives your eyeball its white color and gives the sclera strength.
Episclera, clear, thin tissue resting on top of the whites of your eyeballs. Stroma, made up of fibroblasts and collagen fibers, blending into the episclera. Lamina fusca, a transitional layer between the sclera and the choroid and ciliary body outer layers. Endothelium, the basal, or innermost layer of the sclera.
Several things can cause the entire sclera to change color or spots of color to appear:
Blue sclera: If the sclera is thinner than normal, blood vessels may show through, giving your eyeballs a blue or gray hue. This may occur in people with certain health conditions. Examples include (a genetic bone disease) and (a disorder in connective tissue throughout the body). Other examples include iron deficiency and, Icteric sclera and jaundice: If the entire sclerae turn yellow, that could mean you have, Jaundice indicates liver disease, which means the liver isn’t filtering blood properly. Injury: If your eyeball is injured, it may have a bright red spot. This indicates a broken blood vessel that has leaked some blood. These red spots are usually harmless and go away in a few days or weeks. Irritation: If your eyes are “bloodshot,” you can see redness throughout the sclerae. Eyes may be irritated due to smoke, allergies, exhaustion or infection. Medication: Some medications can tint the sclerae blue or gray (for example, an antibiotic called minocycline). Melanosis: Your sclera may contain a flat, brown spot, almost like a freckle. This is more common in Black people. The spots are caused by high levels of pigment called melanin, and they’re harmless. Pinguecula: A small patch of yellow may bulge out from your sclera after damage from the sun, wind or dust. The patch may become inflamed and turn pink or red. Pterygium: If a pinguecula goes untreated, it can get larger, expand into the cornea and block vision. Primary acquired melanosis (PAM): If you have a flat brown spot on the eye that changes over time, this may indicate PAM. This condition can become cancerous, so report any new or changing spots on the sclera.
Is it rare if your eye color changes?
Can Eye Color Change? – Eye color can change in infancy. Many babies are born with blue eyes that eventually become a different color as melanin develops in the stroma. Their eye color generally becomes permanent around their first birthday. In general, it’s rare for eyes to change color.