Eyes of blue (that were once hazel)
April 16, 2006 8:52 PM   Subscribe

What would cause change of eye color? Growing up I had hazel eyes. Sometime in my twenties my eyes became blue (I'm now in my 40s).

Photos taken of me when young show me with hazel eyes, and a college friend of mine confirmed that my eyes were hazel when we went to college.

My first awareness that my eyes had changed to blue was from a woman I was dating in my late twenties who commented on my blue eyes.

Web searching has only revealed eyes turning brown as a side effect of some medications. I couldn't find anything about eyes turning blue. (And no odd medication that I took in my twenties that I recall).

And no, I do not wear colored contact lenses.

My son has blue eyes (as does my wife), if you want to get into the genetics of it. I don't remember my parents' eye colors.

Anyone else ever experience eyes turning blue?
posted by ShooBoo to Science & Nature (15 answers total)
This doesn't quite answer your question, but until age 12, my eyes went back and forth between blue and green. (It was a very noticeable change and happened on a day-to-day basis).

Sometime (I'm not sure exactly when), they stuck on green, though sometimes, they still get somewhat grey.
posted by JMOZ at 9:07 PM on April 16, 2006

In my family, it is apparently quite common for children to be born with bright blue eyes, which gradually darken to brown. I was born with blue eyes, and my grandmother bet my father that they would turn brown. He won; although my eyes darkened somewhat (to, er, blue-gray-green with brown and yellow flecks, the best determination made it), they decidedly did not turn brown. Later, they lightened up again a little, and are now once again blue, although still a darker shade than when I was a newborn.

I was also born with red hair, which later darkened to brown. Although now I dye it pink.

All of which led me to believe that things were a little more complicated than what they taught me about genetics in 7th grade science class. No idea what the mechanism for this kind of thing is, though ...
posted by kyrademon at 9:10 PM on April 16, 2006

I have not had my eyes change blue, nor have I had my eyes shift color permanently. But they do shift from their usual hazel to green -- usually when I'm weary or upset -- for hours at a time and occasionally for days.

Don't know what this means for your case, but there's another anecdote / data point on changing eye color for you.
posted by weston at 9:11 PM on April 16, 2006

Most (caucasian) babies are born with blue eyes. as they get older they turn darker, usually fairly soon after birth. I've never heard of anyone whose eyes turned so late in life, though.
posted by MadamM at 9:18 PM on April 16, 2006

From Wikipedia:

“[The currently known model of eye-color determining genes] explains the inheritance of blue, brown and green eyes but cannot account for gray, hazel or multiple shades of brown, blue, green and gray eyes. It cannot explain how two blue-eyed parents can produce a brown-eyed child or how eye color can change over time. This suggests that there are other genes, yet to be discovered, that determine eye color or that modify the expression of the known eye color genes.”

From WonderQuest.com:

“Eye color can change over time because of age or, unfortunately, disease. Eye disease is a cause of color change. So, ask a doctor to examine your eyes if you notice a slow loss of color. The change could be due to Fuch’s heterochromic iridocyclitis, Horner’s Syndrome, and pigmentary glaucoma ...

“Aging, however, is the usual cause of color change over time ... It does so for 10 to 15% of the normal Caucasian population. These people’s eyes change slowly over many years after they reach adolescence ... Some eyes become darker, but most become lighter with increasing age ... Hazel eyes, as well as any lighter eyes, usually darken with age. Hazel eyes are light brown or yellowish brown.

“Pigment in the stroma (the connective tissue of the front layer of the iris) gives the iris color. Iris color can lighten if the number of pigment granules in the stroma decreases or if the granules produce lighter pigment ... The iris can also lose color if the stroma pigment degrades. Eyes, unlike skin and hair, do not synthesize color pigment continuously. Instead, eyes retain the pigment granules and accumulate them in the iris stroma. So, if the pigment degrades, the eye color lightens. Likewise, eyes can darken if the number of pigment granules increase or if the granules make darker pigment.

“Why does it change? Genetics is the key as experimenters learned by studying twins ... identical twins changed color together, at essentially the same rate. The non-identical twins changed color but at different rates ... Eye color probably changes for the same reason we have one head instead of two: genes. Genes determine all body characteristics - including changing eye color as we age.”
posted by kyrademon at 9:24 PM on April 16, 2006

Not to blue, but my eyes have been changing from dark brown to hazel/green since about puberty.

As far as my closely related family:
Dad has blue eyes
Sister has medium brown eyes, unchanging
Brother has hazel eyes, also unchanging

My mom had the same thing happened to her as seems to be happening to me. Her eyes are clearly hazel now in her forties, and look green in direct light. She says she remembers her (current) eye colour being that of her maternal grandfather. So, maybe some genetic weirdness? I show other Greek features more strongly than my siblings, and that's on the maternal side all the way through. I don't know how closely associated the genes for facial features and eye colour are though, *shrug*

This has always been a curiosity of mine as well! Personally, I think it's neat, if weird.
posted by nelleish at 9:27 PM on April 16, 2006

Oh, well there you go. Thanks for the new ideas kyrademon!
posted by nelleish at 9:29 PM on April 16, 2006

Are you female, ShooBoo? I don't know if one of the eye color genes is carried on the X chromosome or not, but women are technically mosaics, with some cells in their bodies expressing one of their X chromosomes and other cells in other areas expressing the other X chromosome. (No one has both X's expressed at the same time in the same cell; one of the X's gets turned off.) Maybe your eyes used to express the X you got from your mom and now they express the X you got from your dad, or vice versa?

Also, I have read that some kinds of serious illness or chemotherapy can leave people with a different hair color and/or texture than the previously had, presumably by causing some sort of genetic damage.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:35 PM on April 16, 2006

D'oh! I just re-read your question, and unless your son came from some magic reproductive technology, you're a guy. But I like my theory anyway!
posted by Asparagirl at 9:37 PM on April 16, 2006

I'm guessing ShooBoo is a guy, as the question referred to a wife and son, but me being a good queer I probably shouldn't make such assumptions.
posted by kyrademon at 9:39 PM on April 16, 2006

posted by kyrademon at 9:39 PM on April 16, 2006

MY eyes fade in the sun. Normally they are green but after 10 years in SoCal they were a pale silvery gray. I moved to more northern climes and within a year they were dark greenish again. In general they're very senstivie to light but I don't know if those two things are related.
posted by fshgrl at 10:34 PM on April 16, 2006

btw, I know one other person who had the same thing happen to him- he was very dark skinned so when his eyes would fade to silver it looked quite freaky!
posted by fshgrl at 10:35 PM on April 16, 2006

Cool thread. As the owner of two blue/green/hazel eyes that never seem to be same color day to day, I've always wondered what was going on with them. I've sort of randomly filled out forms when they ask for eye color, sometimes I say green, sometimes hazel.
posted by octothorpe at 5:36 AM on April 17, 2006

Very cool thread. My sister's formerly medium-brown eyes have gradually turned a goldish-hazel over the years, and we've always wondered why... now I can tell her!
posted by scody at 7:04 PM on April 17, 2006

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