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All About Green Eyes

April 18, 2017

Spring is here, and the color green is popping up more and more everywhere you look. But you probably won’t be seeing too many green eyes. They’re actually very rare, and we thought we’d take a little time to give you all the info on why your friend with green eyes is pretty special. 

Out of brown, blue, and green, green eyes are the rarest in the world. Only about 2% of the world’s population has green eyes. 

You might be surprised to learn that people with green eyes don’t actually have any green pigment in them. That’s because eye color is determined by the concentration of melanin and lipochrome in the iris. Melanin is a brown pigment, and lipochrome is a somewhat yellowish pigment. So for instance, people with brown eyes have a higher melanin concentration that makes their iris appear brown or almost black in some cases. 

Blue eyes, in contrast, have very little melanin and lipochrome. The blue color is caused by the scattering of light in the iris, also known as Rayleigh scattering. This scattering only occurs when there is very little melanin in the eye, and it’s the same effect that causes us to see the sky as blue. 

People with green eyes have slightly more melanin and lipochrome in their eyes. Combined with the blue hue from the Rayleigh scattering and the yellowish tint from the lipochrome pigment, a green colored iris is produced. 

Like we said before, only about 2% of the world’s population, or about 140 million people, have green eyes. And although they are sometimes confused with hazel eyes, the two are not the same. 

So where did our green-eyed ancestors come from? Most origins point to areas around the Caucasus Mountains, which link Asia and Europe. That may help explain why so many different countries and continents have had green-eyed populations for thousands of years. There are passes in the Caucasus Mountains that were historically important trade and military routes. This constant movement could easily have helped spread the genes for green eyes to new territory over thousands of years. 

So it turns out your friend with green eyes is pretty special after all. Although be sure to let them know that they don’t really have green eyes—just a combination of different pigments and light scattering. 

And because of that, changes in the light scattering can change the appearance of the iris. That’s why people with green eyes sometimes appear to have different shades of green irises. Mood, weather, lighting, and even the colors they wear can have an effect on the appearance of their eyes. 

Whatever your eye color—green or blue, brown or hazel—you still need to have great vision to get the most out of your eyes. If you’ve been wearing contacts or glasses for years, then maybe it’s time to find out more about LASIK and getting the perfect vision you’ve always wanted. Give us a call today, and we’ll set up a consultation to find out what your options are.

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