October 25, 2014

View as List 6 Answers to Eye Color Questions

  • 6 Answers to Eye Color Questions

    The color of your eyes is a mixture of three pigments—brown, blue and yellow—and determined by your genes. While the most common color worldwide is brown (and the least, green), all kinds of variations exist, including hazel, amber and gray. Some people even have violet eyes or two different-colored eyes, such as one blue and one brown. But what might eye color suggest about your health?

  • 1

    Why can a baby's eyes change color?

    baby boy with blue eyes

    The process of pigmentation of the iris (the colored part of the eye surrounding the pupil) takes six months to a year to complete. Until that time, a baby could have light eyes, which become darker with increased pigmentation. Many babies of European descent, for instance, start out with blue eyes, which then change color.

  • 2

    Can eye color change in adults?

    closeup of brown eye

    Yes, but that may indicate something is wrong. If one eye becomes lighter than the other, it may be a sign of a chronic inflammation called iritis, which increases the risk of cataracts, glaucoma or other degenerative eye disorders. In the condition pigmentary glaucoma, pigment from the iris can come off, which prevents eye fluid from draining. If you notice a change in eye color, see an eye doctor. Rarely, a type of eye drops for glaucoma (prostaglandin analogs) can subtly, but permanently, darken the iris. So can Latisse, a medication approved for enhancing eye lashes. 

  • 3

    Can the whites of eyes change color?

    Called the sclera, the white part of the eye can turn yellowish due to liver disease, such as hepatitis. Darker sclera are also sometimes seen in older dark-skinned people, due to age-related increases in pigmentation. Inflammation of the sclera (scleritis), certain rare cartilage or bone disorders and the antibiotic minocycline can cause a bluish tint. Ingestion of toxic levels of metals (such as silver) can also affect the color of the sclera. If you notice a change, see a doctor. 

  • 4

    Do light eyes boost eye disease risks?

    Woman with blue eyes standing in group

    Light-colored eyes not only have less pigmentation in the iris, but also in the retina, the light-sensitive layer needed for the brain to form images. Since retinal pigment helps protect against damage from ultraviolet (UV) light, people with less of it are at increased risk of retinal disease, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A German study also suggests a greater risk for melanoma of the eye (uveal melanoma), a potentially deadly cancer. To block the most UV rays, wear sunglasses.

  • 5

    Can I lighten my eye color?

    woman pretending to take a picture

    A procedure from Panama that’s touted on the Internet involves implanting colored discs over the irises. This can be very dangerous, since the discs are placed in a part of the eye where nothing should go, and there are case reports of serious eye damage. Potential complications include ocular hypertension, iritis and corneal edema. The simplest way to change your eye color is to wear colored contact lenses; consult an eye-care professional first. 

  • 6

    What is iridology?

    woman with magnifying glass held to her eye

    It is a pseudoscience. Practitioners claim that by looking at patterns of the iris—in the pigment’s color, locations and texture—they can uncover a person’s state of health. Often, practitioners recommend herbs and other dietary supplements to correct imbalances. Though changes in the appearance of the iris may be a sign of certain eye conditions, there’s no evidence that iridology can diagnose medical or psychological conditions. But iridology can do harm if it delays medical attention.