Why do babies eye color sometimes change over time?

I was talking to my friend Dean, and our conversation was about ourselves when we were younger, from birth to elementary school. We started to talk about what our parents told us about when we were little babies and Dean mentioned that he was born with blue eyes and blonde hair. I found this very strange because he has brown eyes and brown hair now. This got me thinking, how can a babies eye color change over time like that? This seemed impossible, mostly because I don’t know much about science at all. My curiosity grew the more I thought about it so I did research.

I first wanted to find out more about the eye. More about its functions and what it is made up of. OnĀ WebMD, I saw a breakdown of the eye. There is the iris (the colored part), the cornea (a clear film covering the iris), the pupil (the dark circle in the eye that allows light in), the sclera (the white part), and the conjunctiva (tissue that covers the front of the eye except the cornea). Behind the iris and pupil is the lens that focuses on light. I did not realize how many parts the eye was made up of but I wanted to learn more about the function of the iris in particular and how color is determined initially.

I found an article written on HealthyChildren.org, and it broke down eye color in infants. Eye color is based on melanin. Melanin is a protein that determines color of skin, eyes, and hair. Melanocytes work with melanin and distribute it where it is needed, such as eyes. Initially babies are born with gray or blue eyes because of their lack of exposure to light since the womb is dark. This explains why your eye color would change over time. Depending on how much melanin secretes over the span of the first year, your baby will end up having blue eyes, green, hazel, or brown. The less melanin that secretes, the lighter the eyes.

I think my friend Dean carried his parents genes of dark hair and dark eyes, but due to the lack of light in his mothers womb, he was born with blonde hair and blue eyes. Over time his genetics took over and his eyes changed to their correct color. Same with his hair. What I find interesting is that many babies are born with dark hair and dark eyes already. Their genes may have taken over already in the womb and the amount of melanin that was able to secrete took over.



5 thoughts on “Why do babies eye color sometimes change over time?

  1. Samuel Deluca

    This is an interesting blog partly because what happened to your friend Dean also happened to my brother. I always assumed it was just due to the new light exposure from the sun. It was intriguing to read that genetics is the true mechanism. Attached you can read an article arguing it is the sun that changes babies eye and hair color. http://www.healtreatcure.org/how-to-change-eye-color/why-do-eye-change-color-mood-emotions-age-season/

  2. Kate Billings

    I did a similar blog to this and talked about how babies eye color change over time. I was really surprised that this happened because I had no idea eyes changed colors. I thought that our eyes colors stayed the same our whole lives and was surprised to learn they didn’t. It’s so interesting that someone who is born with light blue eyes can end up having dark brown eyes. Interesting topic to inform everyone about, I don’t think many people know this about eye color!

  3. Cassandra N Kearns

    I think the idea of this blog is also very interesting because the same thing happened to my brother Shane. Shane was born with bright blue eyes and he now has very, very dark brown eyes like myself. After doing research on this topic, did you find any studies about changing eye color? Here is a longitudinal study that looks at eye color changes after early childhood: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9152135 . Another question you could have researched is, are people with blue eyes more competitive? I found a lot of sources on the web talking about different eye colors and possible personality traits associated and thought this would make another good question.

  4. Jaier Vicente Avecillas

    That is very interesting especially since it is due to lack of light that is why people have brighter eyes until genetics takes over. I wonder why genetics can be on a hiatus when the baby is first born and have different features at first and then all of a sudden change just like that.

  5. Annalise Marie Pilitowski

    Very, very interesting blog. I too know someone that was born with blonde hair and blues eyes but now, 17 years later, she has brown hair and brown eyes. I always found this very interesting and always questioned her baby pictures based on what I saw, but never really looked into why that could be. I am glad that someone decided to look into it! Your research is very intriguing and makes me wonder about the many other wonders that our bodies do. I found an interesting read that explains why hair color in children can change as they grow older. Dr. Barry Starr describes it as genes that are turned on as the child ages, thus creating the change in color.

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