Will My Baby's Eye Color Change?

Do babies eye color change
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Baby eye color is likely to change over time. Baby eye color is determined by a substance called melanin. Melanin is a dark pigment contained in the iris, the structure that controls how much light is allowed into the eye. The color of the iris is determined by the amount of melanin in the iris.

Light eyes have very little pigment, whereas darker eyes have a lot. In newborns, the pigmentation process of the iris is not yet complete. Babies with darker skin are usually born with dark eyes that stay relatively dark. Iris color in lighter-skinned babies is usually a blue or bluish-gray color at birth, then change as they grow. Melanin production changes during the first year of life, usually resulting in a darker, deeper eye color.

When Is Eye Color Set?

Permanent eye color is not set until a baby is at least nine months old, so wait until your child's first birthday to determine what color they will be. Even then, sometimes you may find little surprises. Subtle color changes can still occur all the way up until about three years of age. For example, green eyes my slowly turn hazel or hazel may slowly grow to a darker brown. An infant's eye color is influenced by the eye color of their parents. Eye color is often studied in the field of genetics because of its inheritance patterns but is still not fully understood. Eye color inheritance patterns are much more complicated than what we learn in basic genetics taught in high school biology. Your baby’s final eye color depends a lot on you and your spouse. We used to think of that brown was dominant and blue was recessive. But modern science has shown that eye color is not at all that simple.

Eye color is controlled by three basic genes. Researchers understand two of those genes really well and one of them is still a bit of a mystery. These genes control the development of green, brown and blue eye color. Gray, hazel, and other combinations are more difficult to predict

Predicting Eye Color

While predictions about the exact eye color your baby’s eyes will have, there are some strong probabilities you can learn about. For example, if both parent’s eyes are brown, but one of them has a blue-eyed parent, then you have more of a chance that your baby’s eyes may stay blue. If both parents have blue eyes, then there is a pretty darn good chance that your baby’s eyes will stay blue. If one parent has blue eyes and the other brown, then your baby’s eyes have a 50% chance of switching shades. On the other hand, many parents in which one parent has blue eyes and the other has brown eyes, the children could end up with green or hazel colored eyes. You might assume that neither eye color seems to be the dominant gene so they are a perfect mix. However, science shows that eye colors don’t come out as an exact blend, but rather pairs of genes that can create multiple possibilities.

Scientists are working on a test based on DNA analysis that can predict eye color. The question then becomes, “Is it really that important as long as our baby is healthy?” However, this may be important in the development of genetic conditions that could affect the health of your children.

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Article Sources

  • Alfred Rosenbloom, Jr. and Meredith W. Morgan, Principles and Practice of Pediatric Optometry. J.B. Lippincott Company, 0-397-50917-0, 1990.