Why did my blue eyes turn hazel

Hazel eyes: from green to brown to amber

From All About Vision

There is something mysterious about hazel eyes.

People describe this eye color very differently: Some remind you of the color of hazelnuts, while others call it gold or brown-green.

One of the reasons it is so difficult to describe the color of hazel eyes is the fact that the hue seems to change depending on clothing and lighting conditions.

And although hazel eyes seem to contain shades of green, amber and even blue, these color pigments do not even exist in the human eye.

So how does this stunning color come about?

What determines the color of the eyes?

Most of us have learned in biology class that we inherit our eye color from our parents and that brown is dominant and blue is recessive. So two parents with blue eyes cannot have a child with brown eyes, as neither parent carries the dominant form of the gene for brown eyes.

However, it turned out that the whole thing is a little more complicated.

Recent studies show that up to 16 genes (not just one or two) can affect eye color, making it much more difficult to predict the shade.

Because of the variations in the interactions and expression of multiple genes, it is difficult to predict with certainty what eye color a child will have based on the eye color of the parents. For example, we now know that it is possible for two blue-eyed parents to have a child with brown eyes. That would have been impossible according to the old model of eye color inheritance.

Eye color can also change drastically in the first few years of life. Many babies are born with blue eyes and then develop brown, green, or hazel eyes in their childhood. This phenomenon has little to do with genetics, but it helps explain how hazel eyes come about.

What is the cause of hazel eyes?

The pigment structure inside the eye that surrounds the pupil and gives the eyes their color is called the iris. The pigment responsible for eye color is called melanin. It also affects skin color.

Babies born with blue eyes simply don't have the full amount of melanin in the iris. During the first few years of life, more melanin can build up in the iris, causing blue eyes to turn green, hazel, or brown.

Babies whose blue eyes turn brown develop higher levels of melanin. Those whose eyes turn green or hazel brown develop a little less melanin.

Babies born with dark eyes will have dark eyes for a lifetime. This is due to the fact that more melanin has naturally formed in her iris.

Light absorption and scattering

There are no blue, green, or hazel pigments in the eyes. Eyes only have different amounts of melanin, the dark brown pigment.

So how can a dark brown pigment create blue, green, or hazel eyes? This is possible due to two processes:

  1. The melanin in the iris absorbs different wavelengths of light that enters the eye.

  2. The light is scattered and reflected by the iris, with some wavelengths and thus colors being scattered more easily than others.

Eyes with high concentrations of melanin absorb more light that enters the eye so that less is scattered and reflected back by the iris. The result is a brown eye color.

In eyes with lower concentrations of melanin, less light is absorbed, more scattered and reflected by the iris. Since light rays with shorter wavelengths (blue and green light) are more easily scattered than light rays with longer wavelengths (red light), eyes with less light-absorbing melanin appear green or hazel and eyes with even lower concentrations of melanin appear blue.

The distribution of melanin can be different in different areas of the iris, which causes hazel eyes to appear light brown near the pupil and a little greener in the outer area of ​​the iris.

Hazel eyes are a work of art

The hazel color of eyes is complex and beautiful at the same time, as its specific characteristics are determined by many factors: the amount and distribution of melanin in the iris, the scattering of light, the pigment molecules, the lighting conditions and the color of clothing and surroundings.

Just as it takes numerous brushstrokes from an artist to create a painting, so even with hazel eyes, multiple elements create a unique work of art.

If you wear glasses, choose lenses with an anti-reflective coating to eliminate annoying reflections in your lenses and allow others to highlight the beauty of your hazel eye color.

Change your eye color to hazel brown

If your eyes are not naturally hazel, but you have always wanted hazel eyes, you can make your wish come true with colored contact lenses. Of course, this does not change your actual eye color, only their appearance.

Contact lenses are available in many colors, so you can choose from several shades of hazelnut brown. It's not just about choosing a lens color that you like: the natural color of your eyes plays an important role in determining the ideal lens color.


If you have very light eyes, colored contact lenses with a tint to emphasize your eye color might be a good choice. These lenses have a clear tint that lets your eye color show through. This gives light blue eyes, for example, a darker blue. If your eyes are bright enough, you might be able to achieve a hazel brown color with an intensifying tint.

More likely, however, you will need lenses with an opaque tint to achieve hazel brown. These lenses are designed to mask your natural eye color with the shade you want. They work well if you have dark brown eyes and want them to appear a little lighter, e.g. B. in a hazel brown tone.

An optician can introduce you to different colors and help you make the right choice.

McDonald, J.H.Myths of Human Genetics. Sparky House Publishing, 2011.

Genotype-phenotype associations and human eye color.Journal of Human Genetics. January 2011.

Characterization of melanins in human irides and cultured uveal melanocytes from eyes of different colors.Experimental Eye Research. September 1998.

Eye color changes past early childhood: the Louisville Twin Study.JAMA Ophthalmology. May 1997.

Page published in September 2020

Page updated in May 2021