Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Genetics of Eye Color


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Human eye and the applied genetics

Mains level : NA

Researchers from London have found that eye colour in Asians with different shades of brown is genetically similar to eye colour in Europeans ranging from dark brown to light blue.

Human Eye Colour

  • Human eye colour ranges from black, brown to blue, green, and even red.
  • Eye colour is primarily determined by melanin abundance within the iris pigment epithelium, which is greater in brown than in blue eyes.
  • There are two forms of melanin – eumelanin and pheomelanin – and the ratio of the two within the iris as well as light absorption and scattering by extracellular components are additional factors that give irises their colour.
  • Absolute melanin quantity and the eumelanin–pheomelanin ratio is higher in brown irises, while blue or green irises have very little of both pigments and relatively more pheomelanin.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Recently, LASIK (Lasser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) procedure is being made popular for vision correction. Which one of the following statements in this context is not correct?

(a) LASIK procedure is used to correct refractive errors of the eye

(b) It is a procedure that permanently changes the shapes of the cornea

(c) It reduces a person’s dependence on glasses or contact lenses

(d) It is a procedure that can be done on the person of any age

What has the research found?

  • Previously a dozen genes (mainly HERC2 and OCA2) were found to influence eye colour.
  • The researchers have now identified 50 new genes for eye colour.
  • Genetic analysis of nearly 0.2 million people across Europe and Asia helped the researchers to identify the new genes.
  • The findings collectively explain over 53% of eye colour variation using common single-nucleotide polymorphisms.

Outcome of the research

  • Overall, the study outcomes demonstrate that the genetic complexity of human eye colour considerably exceeds previous knowledge and expectations.
  • These findings will help improve our understanding of eye diseases such as pigmentary glaucoma and ocular albinism where pigment levels play a role.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.