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This is how blue or green eyes get their colour


Blue eyes don’t get their colour from pigment – it’s actually way more fascinating than that.

 Your eyes aren’t blue (or green) because they contain pigmented cells. As Paul Van Slembrouck writes for Medium, their colour is actually structural, and it involves some pretty interesting physics.

As he explains, the coloured part of your eye is called the iris, and it’s made up of two layers – the epithelium at the back and the stroma at the front.

The epithelium is only two cells thick and contains black-brown pigments – the dark specks that some people have in their eye is, in fact, the epithelium peaking through.

The stroma, in contrast, is made up of colourless collagen fibres. Sometimes the stroma contains a dark pigment called melanin, and sometimes it contains excess collagen deposits. And, fascinatingly, it’s these two factors that control your eye colour.

Brown eyes, for example, contain a high concentration of melanin in their stroma, which absorbs most of the light entering the eye regardless of collagen deposits, giving them their dark colour.

Green eyes don’t have much melanin in them, but they also have no collagen deposits. This means that while some of the light entering them is absorbed by the pigment, the particles in the stroma also scatter light as a result of something called the Tyndall effect, which creates a blue hue (it’s similar to Rayleigh scattering which makes the sky look blue). Combined with the brown melanin, this results in the eyes appearing green.



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