Blue Eye

The Melanin Scarcity


Blue eye color is determined by a low amount of a pigment called melanin that is present there in the iris of the eye.

Now, how much this amount is, is determined by the genes controlling pigment production.

When the eye is brown, it has a good amount of this pigment, whereas a blue eye has less of it.

Brown was considered to be the most dominant eye color in any gene till quite recently.

But new studies have put a question mark to it.

Now, how the eye color genes exactly interact with one another; through recessing, dominating, expressing themselves midway, or simultaneously full together; is not absolutely clear yet.

It seems there are some missing links yet to be discovered in order to understand the exact pattern of the eye color inheritance to be determined genetically.

Eye color genes produce enzymes which decide for the amount of melanin in the iris.

At the physiological and the anatomical level, the eye color is determined by the amount of a dark brown pigment - named melanin - present in the iris of the eye.

Melanin Determines The Eye Color
Melanin Determines The Eye Color
Credit: National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

If the amount is scarce, it ends up into a blue eye.

Blue Eye

Blue Eye

Credit: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health

Blue eye is quite common, mainly in the people of:

  • Northern Europe

  • Eastern Europe

  • Pathans in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India

  • Inhabitants of Higher Elevations

  • Finland and Lithuania (80%)

  • Ireland (70%)

  • Great Britain (60%)

  • Iceland (90%)

Melanin production keeps increasing till 6 years of age.

Hence a baby having a blue eye - that is sometimes the case with young babies - may get its hue changed by that age.

With in-between amounts of melanin, it may turn into a gray eye, a green eye, a hazel eye or a light brown eye.

Gray Eye

Gray Eye

Credit: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health

If the amount is nil, the eye color takes its hue from the blood vessels in the back of the eye and appears to be a pink eye. Albinos are the example of this.

A purple eye is a mixture of a pink eye and a blue eye, giving its hue as violet; like Elizabeth Taylor has!

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Return from Blue Eye to Human Eye

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