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But now for our weekly blog, what really are the most common eye colors?.
Eye Color Guide – The Most Common Eye Colors
The human eye is both beautiful and unique. Much like a fingerprint, each individual’s eye color is specific only to them, with no others sharing the same shape, color and appearance. So what eye colors are the most common, and which are the rarest?
What is the most common eye color? Which eye color is the rarest?
Brown eyes are the most common eye color in the world with over 55% of the world’s population having brown eyes. Brown eye color is a dominant genetic trait, and is created by the presence of melanin in the eye. Over fifty percent of the world’s population has brown eyes, with nearly all individuals from Africa and Asia sharing brown eye color. Brown eyes are typically darker than other eye colors, and they may even appear black in certain individuals.
Hazel eyes are similar to brown eyes, although they are typically lighter in color, and have more of a green-yellow tint. Hazel eyes have a higher concentration of melanin (pigment) around the eye’s border, which can result in a multi-colored appearance that varies between copper and green depending on the lighting. Most people estimate that around 5-8% of the world’s population has hazel colored eyes.
Blue eyes are genetically recessive, and therefore much less common worldwide. Blue eyes are formed by the absence of pigments in the eye, where the blue color is formed by the scattering of light as it’s reflected off the iris. While blue eyes are less common than brown eyes, they are frequently found from nationalities located near the Baltic sea in northern Europe. It’s estimated that approximately 8% of the world’s population has blue eyes.
Green eye color is often confused with hazel eye color, yet is entirely separate and distinct. Green eye color is the rarest color found around the world, and it is estimated that only around 2% of the world’s population has green colored eyes. Green eye color is a result of a mild amount of pigmentation in the eye with a golden tint. When combined with the natural blue scattering of the eye, the colors mix to give a green appearance. Green eye color is most common in northern and central Europe, but can also be found in western Asian cultures on rare occasion.
Silver eye color is also quite rare, although many consider silver eyes to be a variation of blue eye color. Like blue eyes, silver eyes are the result of a very low amount of pigmentation in the eye, which reflects a gray-silver appearance. Silver eye color is most common in eastern European countries, and is one of the rarer eye colors worldwide.
Amber eyes show off a yellow-copper tone, which results from the yellow colored pigment lipochrome. Amber eyes are very rare worldwide, and are most common in Asia and South American countries. Amber eye color can range from golden yellow to a more copper tone.
Children receive one copy of each paired chromosome from each parent. It follows that if one parent has two copies of a dominant gene, every one of their children will receive at least one copy, regardless of what the other parent has. All children of this mother and father will have brown eyes, if even one parent has two brown eye alleles, and even if the other parent has two blue eye alleles.
If both parents have one brown and one blue allele, then for any particular child, there’s a 1 in 4 chance of receiving two brown alleles, a 1 in 4 chance of receiving two blue alleles (the only case that will result in blue eyes), and a 2 in 4 chance of receiving one brown and one blue allele (hence brown eyes). If one parent has blue eyes, and the other has both a brown and a blue allele, then the odds are 50/50 for each of their children to have either brown or blue eyes. So if one or both parents have brown eyes, it’s possible for them to have blue-eyed children. But when both parents have blue eyes, so all of their alleles are for blue eyes, all of their children will have blue eyes. In that case, if any child has brown eyes, it must be the case that one parent – most likely the male – is not the biological parent. Oops.
So a blue-eyed man has an interesting advantage over men with brown eyes – a very dependable way of knowing that he is not the father of a particular child, provided he mates with a blue-eyed woman. Further, a blue-eyed man who regards blue-eyed women as more attractive than women of other eye colors is more likely to mate with blue-eyed women. And so such a blue-eyed man has a selective advantage over other blue-eyed men who have no such preference (or a preference for brown-eyed women).
This would be advantageous, at least in prehistoric times, if in addition such a man was less inclined to provide for a child without blue eyes – even if there was no conscious recognition that the child could not be his own. Some recent research has indicated that blue-eyed men sometimes actually, if unconsciously, do have a tendency to regard blue-eyed women as more “attractive”, and hence (presumably) are more likely to choose them as mates:
Both blue-eyed and brown-eyed women showed no difference in their preferences for male models of either eye color. Similarly, brown-eyed men showed no preference for either blue-eyed or brown-eyed female models. However, blue-eyed men rated blue-eyed female models as more attractive than brown-eyed models.
If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then what colour are your windows? Baby blue? Big and brown? Green or hazel? Haven’t you ever wondered about how your eyes came to be the colour they are?
What determines eye color? Did your parents pick them out for you? Not exactly, but they did play a big part in determining what color eyes you have. How? They passed along their genes to you!
There are two main factors that help determine your eye color: the amount and pattern of dark brown pigment (called melanin) in the part of your eye called the iris and the way in which the iris scatters light that passes through the eye. The more important factor is the pigment, which is determined by your genes.
Deep inside the nucleus of your body’s cells are 46 chromosomes, divided into 23 pairs. When you were conceived, you inherited one chromosome from each parent to make each pair of your chromosomes.
Chromosomes are comprised of pieces of DNA called genes. These genes, which also come in pairs, determine many of your characteristics you will develop. Scientists believe that as many as 16 different genes play a role in determining eye color. The two main genes believed to be responsible are OCA2 and HERC2, both of which are part of chromosome15.
Genes are, in turn, made up of alleles that ultimately determine whether any particular characteristic will appear. For each trait you can inherit, there are two alleles. If the two alleles are the same, they are homozygous. If they are different, they are heterozygous. For each trait, one allele (dominant) is expressed (the trait it represents appears), while the other allele (recessive) is unexpressed (the trait it represents does not appear). Recessive alleles are only expressed if there is no dominant allele present.
For example, the alleles for eye color can be separated into blue, green, and brown. Green alleles are dominant over blue alleles, and brown alleles are dominant over both blue and green alleles. If you received a blue allele and a brown allele, your eye color would be brown because brown is the dominant allele. If you have blue eyes, that means you received blue alleles from both parents.
What determines your eye color are your genes, which dictate how much (and where) melanin is produced in your iris. The more melanin produced, the darker the eye color will be. Because melanin production does not begin at birth, babies’ eyes appear blue. True eye color will be determined over time. It’s usually not until age three that a child’s true permanent eye color reveals itself.
Have you ever noticed how some people’s eyes seem to change colour depending upon the lighting? That occurs because the iris has two layers. Sometimes there is pigment in both layers. In people with blue or green eyes, however, the front layer will have very little or no melanin. Depending on the amount and diffraction of light, their eyes may appear to change colors.
Some people have two different eye colors. This results from a condition called heterochromia. It’s very rare, but usually harmless. It occurs due to differences in the early stages of iris development.