McMaster University

Demystifying Medicine
Seminar Series

Are blue eyes actually brown?

What Determines Eye Colour?

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Have you ever wondered what makes your blue eyes blue? Or your brown eyes brown? This video examines the role of melanin, a naturally brown pigment, in determining eye colour. Depending on how much melanin is produced and where it is located, that could have a big impact on your eye colour.

— Video by (Ahmad) Zubair Banoor, Vanessa Sheng, Lavan Sivarajah and Danil Kopylov


  • Sturm RA and Frudakis TN (2004). Eye colour: portals into pigmentation genes and ancestry. TRENDS in Genetics 20:327-332.
  • Eiberg H, Troelsen J, Nielsen M, Mikkelsen A, Mengel-From J, Kjaer KW and Hansen L (2008) Blue eye color in humans may be caused by a perfectly associated founder mutation in a regulatory element located within the HERC2 gene inhibiting OCA2 expression. Hum Genet 123:177-187.
  • Sturm RA and Larsson M (2009) Genetics of human iris colour and patterns. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res 22:544-562.