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Eye color is perhaps one of the most distinguishing characteristics that we have. It goes on our driver’s licenses, medical records, and more. But for those with green hues, it seems as if their color is more rare than the classic blue or brown irises. If you’ve ever sat through a high school biology class, you’ll know that some genetic traits are more dominant than others. That’s why darker pigmentation in hair and skin tone often takes precedence over lighter hues. Green eyes are a genetic trait that is most common among people with Irish or German ancestry, Uptown Eyecare explains.
Furthermore, the outlet notes that only two percent of the world’s population can say they have green eyes. On the other hand, brown makes up the majority of eye colors around the world, per Healthline. The reason for the high number of dark-colored eyes is thought to stem from early human history, when people lived in hot climates and needed protection from the sun. The outlet contends that darker-brimmed irises could better offset any damage from the UV rays in those parts of the world.
As humans could inhabit colder climates and migrated north, eyes lightened in response to the change of sunlight. That’s why people with colder-climate ancestry are more likely to have blue or green eyes.
Green eyes contain a different pigment
Beyond being extremely rare and often striking, green eyes also have a different make-up than other colored eyes. Healthline says that this hue includes a pigment called lipochrome that causes irises to appear green, along with a lower amount of melanin than other colored eyes. The melanin content in your eyes has a lot to do with what hue that they appear. The outlet explains that lighter eyes contain lower amounts of melanin and, since this pigment absorbs light, the higher the melanin content, the darker the eyes.
This explains the reasons behind the higher number of green-eyed people that live in the United States. As the nation has a large number of people descended from the British Isles and Germanic regions, nearly nine percent of the population boasts the rarity of having green eyes, according to Medical News Today. Perhaps an interesting factor to note, eye color can only fully change in infancy, the outlet explains. As their melanin content rises as they grow, babies’ eyes can adjust and seemingly change hues with their varying pigment concentrations. After the age of three, eye color is considered permanent, per Healthline.
While green eyes may be the most rare, there are many factors that contribute to the varying degrees of color that irises can take.
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