“The eyes are the window to the soul,” notes a timeless quote.
While your eyes also show the world in your direction, the origins are intriguing and even mystifying.
To help lay out the details of this genetic marvel, Fox News Digital spoke to a genetics expert about the topic.
What is eye color?
Eye color refers to the color of your iris, which is the colored part of your eye that surrounds the pupil.
Your pupil is the small black opening in the center, per the Cleveland Clinic.
“Your eye color is like your fingerprint. Nobody else in the world has the exact same eye color as you do,” the Cleveland Clinic noted.
How is eye color determined?
Eye color depends on the amount, type and distribution of melanin, or pigment, in the iris of the eye, said Blair Stevens, a clinical genetic counselor and the director of prenatal genetic counseling services and an associate professor at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, to Fox News Digital.
“Melanin production is determined by someone’s genetic information, which we inherit from our parents,” Stevens said.
Eye color is considered a “polygenic” trait, meaning several genes are involved.
Some genetic variants result in darker eyes because they produce more melanin. Other genetic variants, on the other hand, produce less melanin and have lighter colored eyelids, Stevens explained.
Melanin production continues to develop after birth.
“People often wonder why newborns’ eye color changes and that is because melanin production continues to develop after birth,” she added.
What are recessive and dominant genes?
“Recessive” traits are typically only expressed if someone inherits the recessive gene from both parents, Stevens said, whereas a “dominant” trait inherited from only one parent can mask a recessive trait from the other parent.
“Brown eyes are dominant over blue, just like when you mix paint.
For instance, when you mix blue and brown paints together the result will be more brown.
What if one parent has brown eyes and the other has green, yet a child has blue eyes? How does this happen?
Although brown eye color is thought to be dominant to blue, Stevens emphasized that we have two copies of each gene — one from each parent — and multiple genes are involved in determining eye color.
The inheritance pattern to determine eye color is very complex.
Stevens said there still is much to be learned about the genetics of eye color.
She said that genetic testing cannot be used to predict eye color.
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