The Reason the Eye Changes Color

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By Izzy Ferrari

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Abstract

Why do eyes change color? What is eye color? Why do eye colors change and why do some eyes have more than one color? “The eyes can naturally change their color as a response to the iris expanding or contracting in the presence of light or as the iris ages.” “(the) eye is a slightly asymmetrical globe, about an inch in diameter. The front part (what you see in the mirror) includes:
Iris: the colored part
Cornea: a clear dome over the iris
Pupil: the black circular opening in the iris that lets light in
Sclera: the white of your eye
Conjunctiva: a thin layer of tissue that covers the entire front of your eye, except for the cornea”
Melanin is a protein secreted by special cells called melanocytes and which determines the color of your eyes. If they have more melanin in their instructive DNA, their eyes will turn to hazel, green or brown. There is a common myth that eye color changes with mood, this is false because the only change is how much the eye is taking in light aka. the iris expanding or decreasing. There are other ways to change the color of your eye like colored contacts that are used in Hollywood and also some surgeries to add or take away melon but they are highly dangerous and can cause eye damage. Eye color is a fascinating world of shades and hues that all came together from years of generations of eyes looking at the world around us.  
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Object and Inquiry

Why do eyes change color? What is eye color? Why do some eyes have more than one color? To add to that, do animals eye’s change color? These are questions I have since I started seeing my eyes were not entirely blue. I decided to looked into the topic before, but there was not much information I learned besides the idea that my blue eyes will grow darker overtime because of melanin.  Melanin is a natural pigment which  is “a protein secreted by special cells called melanocytes” [1]Other than this I couldn’t find out why my eyes will go from green to blue to grey. Based on the limited research I did before this paper, my hypothesis is: the reason eye color changes is because of the change in melanin over a person’s life. The eye is a complicated and wonderful evolution and is one of our main senses that make us human. In this paper, I will be looking at how and why eye color changes to see if my hypothesis is correct or not.

[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/all-babies-are-born-with-blue-eyes#how-it-works[/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyVG9ySCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRmElM0U=[/vc_raw_html][vc_separator color=”black” el_width=”80″ css_animation=”none”][vc_column_text]

Thesis/ Hypothesis

Based on the limited research I did before this paper, my hypothesis is: the reason eye color changes is because of the change in melanin over a person’s life.[/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyUldVJTIyJTNFJTNDJTJGYSUzRQ==[/vc_raw_html][vc_separator color=”black” el_width=”80″ css_animation=”none”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Research Write Up

         “The eyes can naturally change their color as a response to the iris expanding or contracting in the presence of light or as the iris ages.”[1] Let’s start with the main eye-dea (I’m so sorry) of this project. What is an eye? According to webmd.com the definition is “(the) eye is a slightly asymmetrical globe, about an inch in diameter. The front part (what you see in the mirror) includes:

  • Iris: the colored part
  • Cornea: a clear dome over the iris
  • Pupil: the black circular opening in the iris that lets light in
  • Sclera: the white of your eye
  • Conjunctiva: a thin layer of tissue that covers the entire front of your eye, except for the cornea.”[2]

         Now that we know what the eye is, let’s talk about the function of the eye and the problems it can have. The eye gives us one of our five sense- sight. Humans and animals all have eyes to see. The eye can have many problems as people grow. As well, the eye can have problems due to inherited genes. The eye can, as they grow, acquire many different problems like stigmas or cataracts.  Cataracts are when the eye develops a clouding in front of the eye which limits a person’s ability to see. Laser eye surgery can remove cataracts. There is also color blindness. Color blindness is not about the outside of the eye but the inside. There is a great video by Human Interest about his experiences with being color blind.[3] Though color blindness is a part of eye sight this project is about the iris. Color blindness can be ‘cured’ in a way now because of modern engineering. The iris is the part of the eye that lets in light and controls the pupils dilation.[4]

         As we discussed, melanin is a protein secreted by special cells called melanocytes and which determines the color of your eyes. When Caucasian babies are born, many have blue eyes because there is little melanin in their iris. There is little melanin because they have been in the womb where it is dark and no light to trigger the reaction of melanin production. As babies are exposed to light after they are born, their melanin may increase. If they have more melanin in their instructive DNA, their eyes will turn to hazel, green or brown. However, if there is little melanin in the iris, the baby’s eyes will remain blue. The amount of melanin is typically determine by genetic make up (i.e. your parents/ancestors).

         Also puppies, like human babies, eye color change after birth. The change of eye color is actually not rare in most animals like in dogs they tend to only have brown eyes (with the exception of huskies who’s eye are blue and sometimes two colors) and if their eyes are a shade of blue will turn brown in most dog breeds.[5]

         There is a common myth that eye color changes with mood, this is false because the eye color changes depending on how much light the eye is taking in. In other words, the iris expands or decreases due to light intake. To explain the reasons for why light is connected to eyes let us look at why eyes are the color they are. Eyes reflect light off an  object like a mirror reflects your image. This light can come in many different colors.  The light sends a signal to the brain to tell it what it looks like. Back on track, the eyes color as I said before is defined by how much melanin is in your body but the color can change based on how much light is going through the eye. Sometimes the emotions you feel can change the expanse of the eye so more light is let in  which may look like the color of the eye is changing. “While light affects the retina, mood also affects retinal contraction. Under stress, the retina contracts, making the pupil smaller and revealing more of the iris to light. In lighter eyes, or eyes that reflect more light, this can cause the eyes to appear to change color.”[6]

         There are also other ways to change the color of the eye. Heterochromia, is where one eye is a different color then the other.  This can be is caused by genetics, a birth defect or can be caused by trauma to the eye as a child. [7]There are other ways to change the color of your eye, like colored contacts that are used in Hollywood and also some surgeries to add or take away melanin, there are some eye surgeons that will say they can permanently change the color of someone’s eye. This is in fact false. Yes you can have the surgery but the fact is that the surgery is highly dangerous and can lead to permanent damage on the eyes. This eye surgery is not too different from the laser surgery used to correct eyes, but instead the surgery to change eye color is on a different part of the eye. In the surgery, they cut open the eye’s corona to add or take out melanin in the eye[8]. Though it seems like a simple process even the most experienced of eye doctors have a hard time opening the eye and can lead to many different diseases in the eye and have terrible consequences .

         The eye is a powerful tool that even modern scientists and engineers can only hope to make a camera even close to the human eye let alone other animals’ eyes. Although in our culture, eye color has not been the most important of things in the human body, eye color can tell you a lot about the character in the story. The eye is a window to the soul because there are many ways humans can communicate with each other, with just sight, other than language. Like when you look at a mother and her new child there are no need for words just looking into each other’s eyes is enough. The eye is the place where we see all that is around us and experience in one sense the world. Eye color is a fascinating world of shades and hues that all came together from years of generations of eyes looking at the world around us.


[1] https://www.nvisioncenters.com/blog/eye-color-change/

[2] https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/picture-of-the-eyes#1

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNRQB5309yo

[4] https://www.verywellhealth.com/iris-of-the-eye-3421680

[5] https://www.healthypawspetinsurance.com/blog/2017/08/28/will-my-puppy-have-blue-eyes-forever

[6] https://healthfully.com/can-eye-color-change-mood-4967659.html

[7] https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-heterochromia

[8] https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/iris-implants-risk-eye-damage

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Procedure and Data

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Journal

2/4: Did the object and inquiry
2/11: Look into research
2/24: Thesis research
2/27: Did tools and materials
3/2: Work on first paragraph
3/9: Work on beginning Journal
3/12: Research
3/13: Work on paper
4/21: Start up project again
4/22: Work on report
4/23: Work on report
4/24: Work on report
4/25: Work on report
4/26: Work on report
4/27: Do rewrites  
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Results and Conclusion

In conclusion, based on my research the reason why eyes change color is due to light coming into the eye, not because of the change of melanin as a person grows. Eye color does not change because of your mood, instead it changes due the light coming into the pupil. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_raw_html]JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyQmliJTIyJTNFJTNDJTJGYSUzRQ==[/vc_raw_html][vc_separator color=”black” el_width=”80″ css_animation=”none”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Bibliography

https://www.healthline.com/health/all-babies-are-born-with-blue-eyes#how-it-works
https://www.nvisioncenters.com/blog/eye-color-change/
https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/picture-of-the-eyes#1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNRQB5309yo
https://www.verywellhealth.com/iris-of-the-eye-3421680
https://www.healthypawspetinsurance.com/blog/2017/08/28/will-my-puppy-have-blue-eyes-forever
https://healthfully.com/can-eye-color-change-mood-4967659.html
https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-heterochromia
https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/iris-implants-risk-eye-damage 
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