Why do I have the eye color I have? It doesn’t match my parents?

Have you ever wondered why your eye color can differ? You may think that it is genetic related, which is true, but some studies are finding it is not that easy.

A study identified fifty new genes for eye color in a genetic study of 195,000 people across Europe and Asia.

What is this study?

Essentially, this study is the largest study of its kind to date. There has never been so many individuals studies based on genetics and eye color before. The study was hoping to not only identify eye color. Eye color is fun to learn about, but more importantly genetic eye diseases and what could cause them. They specifically were looking at pigmentary glaucoma and ocular albinism. This is because eye color pigment plays a role in these diseases.

Pigmentary Glaucoma

What is pigmentary glaucoma you ask? It is when the pigment in the eye deposits on the structures of the eye. This creates clogging in the drainage increasing pressure of the eye. If you have been following our blogs, you may remember Glaucoma (the annoying eye puff test) is due to high eye pressure. This high pressure damages the eye and can create lasting vision issues. When we see pigmented glaucoma this is typically when the pressure of the eye has caused damage to the optic nerve. Some individuals have pigment dispersion syndrome, which can lead to pigmentary glaucoma.

The risks for diagnosis of pigmentary glaucoma is male, patients with myopia (nearsighted), and younger patients (20-40 years old).


The treatment is to lower the eye pressure to decrease the damage or minimize the impact on vision. Using medications or laser treatment.

Ocular Albinism

What is that and why does my eye color matter? Ocular albinism (OA) is a genetic condition that affects the eyes reducing the coloring of the iris. Seems minor, but the decrease of the pigmentation creates exposure of light-sensitive tissues in the back of the eye. It is crucial to have eye pigmentation. That is right. It is not just to find someone attractive, it plays an important role in our vision.  This changes the sharpness of vision and depth perception.

The risk factor is typically found in males. It is much less typical in females. It is a mutation in the GPR143 gene. This is the gene that makes protein for eye pigmentation in the eyes and skin. This type of albinism typically does not affect other areas (skin and hair) like other types of albinism would.

This cannot be cured. The treatment is typically just helping the eye compensate for the lack of pigment. Proactive eye care. This is using contact lenses, or eye glasses. In addition to the use of special filter glasses for light sensitivity. Extreme cases may require surgery to restore alignment.

What did the study find?

The study looked at Asian and Europeans ranting in all eye colors and shades. This study is meant to build on previous studies that looked at genetics linked to eye color. It was previous believed to just be two genetics, brown eyes with dominate and blue eyes non-dominate. Looks like we are finding other things play a big role.

Overall, we want to share a fun blog to looking at eye color. With that said, if you are in the risk factors of pigmentary glaucoma or OA, please contact your optometrist for diagnosis and treatment.