The eyes have it

Cecil wrote:

Not one to dispute the master, but I do have personal experience that makes me question these theories.

First, my own eyes slowly oscillate between green and blue. When I say slowly, I mean over a period of several days. It doesn’t seem likely that the fat content of my eyes would be changing.

Second, and even more dramatic, I had a girlfriend who had, what I used to call, mood eyes. Her eye color could change from brown to green to blue, all in a matter of minutes. She would also get this eerie (cat-like) gold color from time to time. I find it very difficult to believe that the melanin and fat content of her eyes could change dramatically so quickly. There must be some other explanation…

Of course, Cecil alluded to a more detailed explanation, but didn’t deliver.

Welcome to the SDMB, and thank you for posting your comment.

Wait a minute. I don’t need to say “welcome to the SDMB”, this is not a new visitor, this is an old-timer, who somehow hasn’t noticed yet that you’re supposed to PROVIDE A LINK when posting in this forum.

Please include a link to Cecil’s column if it’s on the straight dope web site. To include a link, it can be as simple as including the web page location in your post (make sure there is a space before and after the text of the URL).

Cecil’s column can be found on-line at this link:
Is it possible to have eyes of two different colors? Can your eyes change color? (05-Dec-1997)

moderator, «Comments on Cecil’s Columns» **

I don’t have a link for this but the reference to David Bowie’s eyes is flawed according to a VH-1 episode which stated that Bowie’s eyes are the same blue color but that one is permanently dialated due to an injury recieved as a youth.

I have a friend who had the same thing because he got poked in the eye playing b-ball and had to wear a medic-alert bracelet in case he was in an accident and was knocked unconcious, I guess partial dilation makes the medics think you have something wrong with your brain and they can make things worse if they act on this incorrect assumption.

This girlfriend of yours, with the mood eyes… Is it possible that you were just looking at her in different lighting conditions? A great many people have eyes which look different when illuminated and viewed from different angles, but I’ve never heard of any human being whose actual eye color changed on that short a timescale.

Unless she’s actually a space alien. That would explain everything.

First of all, I’d just like to say that I’m very glad to be a new member of the SDMB! :slight_smile:

Regarding the difference in color of one’s eyes, here’s my “two-cents” worth. My younger sister had a friend (who shall remain nameless out of respect) about 10 years ago that had two differently-colored eyes. Believe it or not, this young girl (14 or 15 years old?) had one PINK eye and one LIGHT BLUE eye. I don’t know if her nationality had anything to do with it, she was an African-American girl, but as far as I knew, she was born in the U.S. and so was her family (but this is just speculation on my part). Unfortunately, I didn’t get to know her much as she passed away sometime in the early 90’s. My sister told me that her young friend suffered from seizures (and possibly some other medical problems); maybe whatever ailment she had also caused the difference in eye color…

In Cecil’s column, the original questioner said

“I was born with hazel eyes (it’s on my birth certificate)”

That seems a bit strange. Most babies are born with blue eyes - no-matter what they end up with. It takes a week or three to change from blue to the final color, usually well after the birth certificate is issued.



Mea culpa. I was in a hurry; I kept getting interrupted while I tried to quickly type it in; I was an idiot. Take your pick - all true; all equally unforgivable…


Nope. That’s the first thing I thought of. When I first noticed it I got all scientific and kept repositioning her face (very romantic after that kiss) to see if lighting was the factor, but whatever color her eyes were at that moment, they were that color in basically any light. She said that other people notice it as well, because the color changes are so dramatic.

I’ve never seen or heard of anyone else with this ‘ability’ so, had I not seen it myself on many occasions (well, for the two or three months that we were still speaking), I probably wouldn’t believe it myself. I’ve also never seen or heard of any other human who’s eyes were yellow or gold.

That must be it.

This site has a lot of info on eye color:
eye color

I think the “it’s on my birth certificate” line must be a joke, what would be the point of putting eye color on a birth certificate if all babys are born with blue eyes.

I was born with, and had blue eyes for around the first 5-10 years of my life. I think around the time I was 10, I noticed that my eyes weren’t blue, but actually a really noticable green. After a few years, I noticed a thin hazel ring about 3/4 towards my pupil. I just checked in the mirror to see if they were still like that, and lo and behold, they’re a slight grey-green with a wide light-brown ring close to the pupils. What’s more is that the light-brown ring appears to be raised if I shine light from an angle on it.

I also have a friend who, only when extremely angry or stressed, his eyes change color almost instantly, but since this didn’t happen often, I can’t remember what they change TO.

I knew a guy that had green eyes, but one of them was 3/4 green and 1/4 brown.

Is it true that all babies are born with blue eyes? I know that many babies are born with blue or bluish eyes, but not all.

This site says “babies who have dark skin usually have dark gray to brown eyes at birth”.

Eye Color - Nearly all Caucasian babies are born with blue or blue-gray eyes, and nearly all babies of African or Asian heritage are born with brown eyes. At age six months or so, many blue or gray-eyed babies’ eye color changes if either parent has brown eyes.

Most of the sites I found say “many” and “most” are born with blue eyes. It is dependant upon the gestation of the baby, and its growth rate. Nothing specifically precludes a baby being born with an eye color other than blue - it is pretty common, but not 100%.

I seem to recall (I’ll have to check) eye color being listed on my birth certificate, too. frolix8 has a good point if all or most are born blue and then change, why is it listed. I don’t know, but it is.

As for eye color changing with mood, I have blue eyes. One girlfriend of mine told me that she saw them change colors, but I’ve never been able to verify this. It’s not like I go looking for mirrors to check my eye color frequently. Often the lighting even in well-lit restrooms isn’t sufficient to hit the eyes very well. Shadows caused by eyebrows/eye socket make it hard to tell. Or maybe I’m just blind.

My most unique feature is definitely my left eye. The top half is blue/gray, while the bottom half is brown. (My right eye is all blue/gray.)

Back in high school, my biology teacher told me it was a simple mutation. I have had people ask me if I see different colors through that eye, or if I have a half a contact lens in. And one person even assumed I was legally blind in that eye. No, I see just fine.

This eyeball of mine came in most handy in college, when a jerk ex-boyfriend was telling a story at a party. He was the type that always had to be the center of attention. So when one person happened to noticed my eye, all the people listening to him left mid-story and came over to look at me.

I think that must depend on where you were born. My birth cert doesn’t list eye color, or hair color either. Many Caucasian babies are born with too little hair to tell; and hair that is pale at birth almost always gets considerably darker as the person gets older, so hair color would be as pointless as eye color. I am told, though, that both my brother and I had brown eyes at birth. Our parents were brown-eyed father, and blue-eyed mother. We’re generally a pale-skinned, Northern European-Jewish bunch, but brown eyes at birth nonetheless. Maybe it’s that one Gypsy who married my paternal grandmother’s paternal grandmother - dark skin and eyes from there?

As far as eye color genetics, I think it’s more complicated than that. My spouse’s parents were both blue-eyed; spouse has green eyes. They are definitely green, in all lights.

In guinea pigs, normal eye colors are dark brown, with red being a close second. Not albino/lack of pigment, but actual red. Predicting which matings will come out red-eyed is still an inexact art. And that’s a species with far less eye color variability than humans! So I don’t think we’re going to know all the determinants of human eye color just yet.

This just in: According to my sister, my brand-new niece has green eyes. Yet another data point for a non-blue newborn.

Chronos, you realize of course that we can’t accept your unsupported word. Post a picture of your niece at the people pages and let us decide based upon the evidence.

The most likely cause for different colored eyes is post-natal damage to the nervous system. Iris pigmentation is due to the production of melanin in the iris. Without any melanin (albinism) the irises are pinkish (and really spooky looking). This is usually due to an enzyme defect in the metabolism of tyrosine, and affects all celles in the body. Iris heterochromia is usually the result of a lesion to the autonomic nerve supply to the eyes. This may be due to trauma or any other damage to that nerve supply.

In my neurology practice I have seen dozens of such cases. they are often of no particularly clinical significance.

My eyes changed color, back in '83 or so when I was trying out contact lenses.

I was born with brown eyes. But after using the contacts for a while, apparently, I developed an allergic reaction to the preservative in the rinse solution (I used the cold dis-infectant method). My eye balls (the whites) turned a nice shade of red. They never hurt, they just turned red. I went around looking like a dope fiend.

I stop using the contacts and went back to regular lenses. Shortly afterwards, I noticed that both of my irises changed color. Around the pupil, there’s the old brown color, the rest of the iris is green, the very rim is like a bluish color.

I’m pretty sure this is an enviromental factor, both eyes changing at the same time and right after I stopped using the contact lense solution.

Anyone else ever have this happen?

What sort of damage to the nervous system might have I encountered? (My eyes were blue at birth, but my left eye changed to half blue, half brown when I was a baby.)
(edited to fix formatting)

[Edited by Arnold Winkelried on 02-03-2001 at 11:53 AM]