The area of the eye that has pigmentation is called the iris and its color develops from three genes — while two colors, brown and blue, are the most common, there is a third gene that can result in green eyes, which is usually more rare (via NVision Center). If you’re wondering, though, if eyes can ever just change color, the answer is yes — but the reasons vary, and they’re not all benign.

Your parents have two pairs of genes on each chromosome that contribute to the outcome of your eye color, and it’s not as simple as mixing colors together — although often when Caucasian babies are born, they have blue eyes which can change as they grow older (via All About Vision). As far as more unusual colors, such as hazel or gray eyes, experts don’t exactly know how those happen (via Fort Lauderdale Eye Institute). So if you’re someone with those eye colors, consider yourself unique. 

Eye color can change because of many reasons

Eyes can change color depending on mood, lighting, and age. The iris, which is a muscle, expands and contracts. It also controls the size of the pupil. In dim light, the pupil enlarges to let more light in, and in bright lighting, it gets smaller. If your pupil changes size, it affects the pigments of the iris and your eye color may change slightly. 

Also, since our pupils tend to change size when we feel different emotions, our eye colors appear different when we have certain emotional responses (via Conscious Reminder), which is because of hormonal changes within the body. Ultimately, your eyes do not change color permanently during this scenario. 

However, there are times when eye color actually does change, and it does stay that way. One harmless reason is simply due to age, as eye color can change over the course of a lifetime, which can happen to approximately 10 to 15 percent of Caucasian people — especially those who have eyes that are on the lighter side to begin with. This type of color change is usually subtle and it can take awhile before you notice your eye color is transforming. 

If your eye color changes drastically, it may mean something more serious

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, eyes that change color, especially drastically, is rare. Extreme eye color changes can be caused by disease, medication, or trauma. Also, make sure you pay attention to the whites of your eyes, as if that changes to a greenish or yellowish color, it can indicate a medical problem. Always make sure to visit a doctor for any sudden eye changes (via 2020 Onsite). 

The only way to change your eye color naturally is with visibility lenses, enhancement lenses, or opaque lenses, which are three different kinds of contact lenses, because a person’s eye color becomes permanent after three years of age (via All About Eyes). So what you’re born with is what you’re gonna get, although in some cases, minor changes can come about with age. Sudden or drastic changes, though, need to be addressed by an eye doctor.

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