Rare Green Eyes
Lots of genetic traits are rare. For example, left-handedness occurs in just 10% of the world’s population, only 11% have naturally curly hair, and a mere 4% have blonde hair. But of all of the seven billion-plus people on planet Earth, only 2% can claim to have one unique trait.
So, what is this trait so few of us have? Green eyes. Yes, only 2 percent of the population of the entire world have them.
How does that compare to other colors? Brown eyes are most common, as many of you would guess, with 79% of people born with them. Blue is found in 8% of people, 5% of us are hazel-eyed, and 5% have eyes of amber. Essentially, green eyes are unique.
Most common in Western, Northern, and Central Europe, green eyes often point to German or Celtic ancestry. Currently, they can be found most often in Iceland, the Netherlands, Scotland, Britain, and Scandinavia. In Britain, brown eyes are, interestingly, even more rare than green eyes, with 22 percent of residents being brown-eyed. By comparison, nearly one-third of residents have green eyes.
Interestingly, green eyes may not appear in children until age three, as pigmentation takes time to form and then to appear. If eyes are, as they say, “windows of the soul,” then green-eyed have the rarest souls around.
As a color, green is often associated with negative emotions like jealousy (Shakespeare’s Othello has a quote that calls envy “the green-ey’d monster”). Still, plenty of people think green is one of the most alluring eye colors. Green eyes can be emerald- or lime-hued, creating a look that is both mysterious and attractive.
What Causes Green Eyes?
Like many physical attributes, genetics are an important predictor of eye color. Still, we’re unable to predict a child’s eye color with certainty by looking at his or her parents.
The colored part of the eye is called the iris. The iris controls the size of the eye’s pupil, which allows certain amounts of light to enter the eye. The iris also has pigmented cells which determine the eye’s color.
What’s interesting is that though there are myriad colors our eyes can be, there are not many kinds of eye pigments. Almost all eye colors are created according to how much melanin, or brown-colored pigment, is present in the cells of the iris.
Differences of color result from varied amounts of melanin in these cells, which are called melanocytes. Melanocytes acquire their melanin during childhood in an amount that’s genetically determined, and this amount stays more or less constant throughout one’s life.
Someone whose melanocytes have less melanin will have lighter eyes than someone with a higher amount of melanin – the latter person would likely have darker brown eyes.
But another factor determines eye color, particularly various hues of blue and green. As light hits the iris and their melanocytes, the light is reflected and scattered: this is called Rayleigh scattering. This phenomenon produces reflective colors that are dependent on the structure of one’s iris and the concentration of melanocytes and their melanin density.
Depending on variables, different shades of green, blue, and hazel can be produced by Rayleigh scattering – the same effect that causes a cloudless sky to appear blue.
It’s also interesting that, depending on the shape of one’s iris and its melanocytes, eye colors can sometimes be tough to categorize. Sometimes “green” eyes can have a circle of brown or hazel near the pupil, making eye color seem green at times and hazel at other times, depending on one’s color of clothing, makeup, and lighting.
Eyes: As Unique As Snowflakes
If you wish your eyes were green instead of the color determined at birth, you could choose to wear colored contact lenses. Many shades of green and many brands of lenses are available, both for those who need corrective lenses and for those who have naturally perfect sight.
If your eyes are naturally green and you wear glasses, lenses featuring anti-reflective (AR) coating can showcase your eye color. This coating gets rid of reflections in your glasses, helping others see your eye color clearly.
Whatever color eyes you have, know that they are unique as snowflakes and cannot be replicated. The features of each person’s eye are one-of-a-kind and, therefore, incredible – no matter their color.