Science Proved Everyone's Eyes Are Actually Brown — And Here's Why

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Science Proved Everyone's Eyes Are Actually Brown — And Here's Why
Entertainment And News

Science, man. If it isn’t contributing to some amazing inventions, radical new technologies, or trying to solve the medical mysteries of the world, it can kind of be a straight-up jerk.

If it’s not proving that the dinosaurs all sort of looked like giant chickens and didn’t roar, or taking Pluto’s planetary status away (not cool, science), it’s getting personal and proving that people with “unique” colored eyes really just have brown eyes beneath it all. 

And that we’re not special.

RELATED: What Your Eye Color Reveals About Your Personality

It’s probably also flipping us the bird when we’ve got our backs turned and spreading rumors about us, Mean Girls style.

Blue eyes? Green eyes? Hazel? Gray eyes? Yep, your eyes are actually brown, buddy. Sorry to break it to you.

But before you flip out and declare it a bald-faced lie stemming from the ruinous year of 2016, just wait a second, because there’s actually a pretty interesting reason for it. Tears can come later when you’ve learned the truth.

Dr. Gary Heiting is a licensed optometrist and the senior editor of an eye care website called, All About Vision. According to him, “Everyone has melanin in the iris of their eyes, and the amount that they have determines their eye color. There’s really only (this) one type of pigment.”

Melanin is the pigment that’s in your hair and skin as well as your eyes, and the color is — you can probably guess it — actually dark brown. Melanin absorbs light, so when there is a lot of it present, it can take in more and appears darker.

Hence, why darker hair, skin, and yes, even eyes, have larger amounts of melanin present. 

Heiting adds, "It's an interaction between the amount of melanin and the architecture of the iris itself. It's a very complex architecture."

RELATED: People With This Color Eyes Are More Prone To Alcoholism

When it’s in an eye, higher melanin levels actually make the iris appear brown, because it’s absorbing a lot of light and less light gets reflected out. Conversely, if you don’t have a lot of melanin in your eyes, then they will appear lighter colored, because they’re reflecting more light back.

Blue eyes are said to have the least amount of pigment of all the eye colors. So, although a baby's eyes may appear blue when they're born, they will probably develop more melanin later on, causing their eyes to become darker in color.


Heiting says, "As a baby develops, more melanin accumulates in the iris."

The actual process is called “scattering,” and the light that your eye is reflecting back happens to bounce back on shorter wavelengths that appear on the blue side of the spectrum of light color.

One theory is that eye color evolution may also be traced back to earlier times.

People used to need more melanin in their bodies to protect them from hotter climates, but as people moved to less sunny locales, that need has changed. 

Another theory suggests that it may be the cause of a common mutation.

As Heiting explains, "It's believed that's how blue eyes came about, but it may just be the de-emphasis on the need for all the melanin."

However, genes also play a role in eye color. "Several genes have an influence on eye color. It's not something you can predict with ease," he adds.

So, yes, the reason that your eyes look green, brown, gray, or any other color is probably because you’re actually lacking melanin in your irises. Yes, underneath those reflective light waves, you have brown, brown, brown eyes!

I guess we can never feel special about cool eye colors again. Thanks, science. 

RELATED: How Brown-Eyed Parents Can Have Blue-Eyed Kids

Merethe Najjar is a professional writer, editor, and fiction author. Visit her website,, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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Editor's Note: This article was originally posted in January 2017 and was updated with the latest information.