Green eyes are the rarest color, with only 2 percent of the world population naturally having green eyes. The largest concentration of green eyes is found in Ireland and Scotland, where 86 percent of the population has blue or green eyes.
What Causes Green Eyes?
Green eyes are not caused by pigmentation, but by a lack of it.
The color of the eye is determined by a pigment called melanin in the outer layer of the iris. In green eyes, the levels of melanin are lower than in brown or hazel eyes.
Ultimately, eyes that have less melanin tend to look green or blue. Eyes that have more melanin appear hazel. Those with the most melanin are brown.
Individual eye color is determined by genetics. In the past, people believed that eye color depended only on a single gene.
Recent genetic research now confirms there are 16 genes responsible for color. Due to these genetic variations, parents can give birth to children with different eye colors.
If your baby is born with blue eyes, there is a chance their eyes may change colors. Between the first few months or few years, your baby will produce more pigment, which may cause their eyes to turn green, hazel, or brown.
How Common Are Green Eyes?
Green eyes are the rarest eye color in human beings. According to the World Atlas, only 2 percent of people in the world have green eyes. This rarity makes it a sought-after color.
People with green eyes are generally found in northern, central, and western Europe.
Green Eyes & Eye Health: Advantages & Disadvantages
As with all eye colors, some links have been made between green eyes and certain health conditions or traits.
Advantages of Green Eyes
A 2014 study from the University of Pittsburgh found that women with green or blue eyes may be able to handle pain better than women with brown or hazel eyes. Further studies are needed to draw strong conclusions on the association between eye color and pain tolerance.
People with green eyes are often considered creative and imaginative. This eye color is associated with jealousy and passion. Since it is rare, it is often deemed very attractive.
Disadvantages of Green Eyes
Green eyes, like blue and gray eyes, may have an increased risk for certain eye cancers.
People with lighter eye colors may be more likely to develop cancer of the eye called uveal melanoma. The uvea is the middle layer of the eye.
Melanoma of the uvea is an extremely rare disease. It affects about six in every 1 million adults in the United States annually.
People with green eyes are also often fair-skinned, so they may be at greater risk for various forms of skin cancer as well.
An additional disadvantage of green eyes may be light sensitivity. If you have green eyes, you have less pigment in the iris. Due to this, it may be harder to block out sunlight or bright fluorescent light. As a result, your eyes may feel more sensitive to light.
How to Tell if You Have Green or Hazel Eyes
Green eyes are typically one solid color. Hazel eyes tend to be a mixture of colors such as green, brown, and golden.
If you see flecks of various colors in your eyes, including bursts of golds or browns, it’s likely that you have hazel eyes. If they tend to be less varied throughout, they are likely green.
Which Eye Color Is Considered the Most Attractive?
As green is the rarest eye color, it is not surprising that it is ranked as the most attractive eye color in many surveys and polls. In a 2022 survey of 66,000 people, 20.3 percent ranked green as the most attractive eye color.
Celebrities With Green Eyes
Celebrities with green eyes include popular stars, such as Adele, Kate Middleton, Scarlett Johansson, Gigi Hadid, Charlize Theron, Lindsay Lohan, Paul Rudd, Channing Tatum, Kate Hudson, and Emma Stone.
How to Enhance & Change Your Eye Color
If green eyes are on your wish list, you’re in luck. It’s possible to shift your eye color with the use of colored contact lenses. Enhancing and changing your eye color with colored lenses is a fun way to play with color and explore your personality.
Colored lenses require a prescription, so you’ll need to visit an optometrist first. This professional can help you evaluate the available choices and make a recommendation on which will help you accomplish your goals.
Depending on your original eye color, you can choose from different types of lenses.
If your eyes are very light in color, you may be able to work with enhancement or tinted lenses. If you have a medium color, you may be able to let some of the color come through with a translucent lens. If your eyes are dark, consider using an opaque tint to get the desired effect.
Once you’ve got green eyes thanks to colored contacts, evaluate your clothing colors, hair color, and sunglasses. You may want to tweak some other things to match your new look.
5 Interesting Facts About Green Eyes
Here are some fun facts about green eyes:
1. Green Eyes Are Very Rare
According to the World Atlas, approximately only 2% of people on the planet naturally have green eyes.
2. Babies May Develop Green Eyes After Birth
Babies may be born with green eyes, but they may also develop them in the first year or so of life.
In the first few months, babies’ eyes develop more pigment. If they were born with blue eyes, they may change to the color green during this time.
3. Green Eyes Are More Sensitive to UV Light
Because green eyes have less melanin, people with this color can be more sensitive to bright light and sunshine. Wearing sunglasses is a smart way to keep your eyes protected.
4. Green Eyes Occur Naturally in All Races
Scientists now have identified 16 genes that can contribute to eye color. Green eyes can occur in all races.
5. Green Eyes Are Found Most Frequently in Ireland & Scotland
Over 85 percent of the population in Ireland and Scotland has either blue or green eyes. Comparatively, about 9 percent of people in the United States have green eyes.
The World’s Population by Eye Color. World Atlas.
Fascinating and Unusual Facts About Green Eye Color. (May 2019). Owlcation.
Your Blue Eyes Aren’t Really Blue. (March 2021). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Can Eye Color Predict Pain Tolerance? (July 2014). University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Does Eye Color Indicate Intelligence or Personality? What Are Your Eyes Telling the World? (November 2018). Owlcation.
Risk Factors for Eye Cancer. American Cancer Society.
Iris Color and Associated Pathological Ocular Complications: A Review of Epidemiologic Studies. (October 2014). International Journal of Ophthalmology.
Myth or Fact: Blue Eyes Are More Sensitive to Light. (July 2021). Duke Health.
The Difference Between Green and Hazel Eyes. (March 2021). Owlcation.
Survey of 66k People Finds This Eye Colour Most Attractive. (March 2022). Evoke.
The Eyes Have It, or Do They? The Effects of Model Eye Color and Eye Gaze on Consumer Ad Response. (January 2008). Journal of Applied Business and Economics.
Your Eye Color, Explained. (February 2022). Discover Magazine.
Last Updated July 20, 2022
Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information.