The Genetics of Eye Color

A lot of emphasis was put on eye color years ago when it was thought that a blue eyed couple having a brown eyed child meant that somewhere along the line an affair had to have happened. Today you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who believes that old mythology. With the amount of genetic research that has been done over the years, it is known why that blue eyed couple can have a brown eyed child and vice versa. Your genetic make-up and the amount of pigment in the eye determines eye color. The following discussion will make this simpler to understand.

The allele B stands for Brown, b stands for blue, G stands for green (or hazel) g stands for lighter eyes (such as gray)

It is also important to remember that B or brown is a dominant eye color while blue is a recessive eye color. An example would be one set of alleles of BG and the other being bG the result is brown eyes. If the combination is BBGG then the eyes would be the darkest brown. For green eyes, the gene combination would have to be bGbG to have a true dark green color. For true blue eyes, the genes would have to be bbgg.

It is also believed that not only will the eye color be implied genetically, but also environmentally as the eye colors around the world are changing, and blue eyed people are becoming rarer in certain parts of the world, such as the United States. While brown eyes have been estimated to cover over half the world’s population, it is important to remember that your heritage plays a part in your genetic make-up, and the reason for the decrease in blue eyed Americans is that the population of English, Irish and Northern European descent are not as prevalent as in the past.

Brown eyes used to be associated with those of Asian descent, as their eyes are a true deep brown; it is thought that about 90 percent of the world’s population has some form of brown eyes, whether it is brown, hazel, or amber colored. True green eyes are thought to be more popular with those who have Celtic or German ancestors, as only two percent of the world’s population is thought to have green eyes. Gray eyes are more dominant in Russia, Latvia, and Finland; this is thought to be heavily influenced by the amounts of proteins consumed and the melanin amount in the iris.

Today you have the use of colored contacts to make your eyes whatever color you wish, so even if you were born with brown eyes you can now have green or blue.