One of the main physical traits that people use to classify themselves is the color of their eyes. When you tour different parts of the world, you’ll encounter people with different eye colors, including blue, brown, hazel, green, and gray.
Over the years, there has been a huge debate among scientists about the main cause of the varying eye colors and the percentages of the various eye colors globally. This article discusses the current eye color percentages across the world to help you understand this important aspect of your eyes.
Eye Color Percentages Across the World
What color are my eyes? This is one of the most common questions asked by people who are concerned about their melanin levels. Scientists claim that melanin plays a critical role in determining a person’s color of eyes, hair, and skin.
Previously, it was widely claimed that eye color was associated with a single gene. Some scholars also believed that people with brown eyes were more than people with blue eyes. But advanced studies have revealed that more complex factors determine the color of your eyes.
For instance, scientists have now ascertained that at least 16 genes are responsible for your eye color. These genes are responsible for the production, distribution, and storage of melanin in your body. Please note that when we talk about the color of your eyes we refer to the color of your iris, not the entire eye.
An iris is the colored matter at the front of your eye that comprises the pupil in the middle. This tissue controls the size of your pupil thus regulating the amount of light that enters your eye. Blue eyes mean that your iris has the least amount of melanin, while green and hazel eyes indicate that your iris has a little more melanin.
Eye Color Percentages in the World
Most people in the world indeed have brown eyes that indicate large amounts of melanin in the iris. The second-most common eye color in the world is blue followed by grey, green, and hazel. It’s not surprising to find people with amber and red eyes.
Others have eyes with two different colors. Here are the latest percentages of eye color in the world.
1. Brown Eyes
As mentioned above, brown eyes are the most common in the world accounting for 70- to 79 percent of the global population. This means that you are likely to see someone with brown eyes in every corner of the world. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AOO), everyone in the world had brown eyes some 10,000 years ago.
This academy further notes that almost half of the people living in Africa, Asia, and the United States have brown eyes. This eye color is more predominant in people living in warm climates because they need more melanin to protect their eyes from extreme sunlight. Areas with warm climates like Africa tend to receive more sunlight throughout the year, which can easily damage the eyes of the people living there.
It also claims that brown-eyed people face less risk of developing eye cancer, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration. People with light-colored eyes face a higher risk of developing these conditions. Unfortunately, brown eyes are more likely to develop cataracts when they get older than light-colored eyes.
2. Blue Eyes
As the second most popular eye color in the world, blue eye color is estimated to account for 8 to 10 percent of the global population. This eye color is more common in the United States where it accounts for about 27 percent of the population, according to the AAO. Although blue eyes aren’t the most common colored eyes in the world today, they aren’t the rarest eye color, either.
The percentage of each country’s population that has blue eyes varies greatly, depending on your area of focus. In fact, it’s quite a rare occurrence for a child to be born with blue eyes in some countries, especially in Africa. Many communities in these areas associated blue eyes with superstition. Unfortunately, some ethnic communities even view blue eyes as a bad omen.
But in other areas like the Scandinavian countries and Iceland, blue eyes are a common occurrence. People in these areas already understand that blue eyes are simply an indication of the little amount of melanin in the iris. It’s important to note that while blue eyes appear blue to the naked eye, they really don’t have any blue coloration.
Blue eyes simply mean that the first layer of your iris lacks enough melanin. So, when light hits this area of your eyes, it’s scattered around, allowing more blue light to reflect back out. That’s why your eyes appear blue.
3. Hazel Eyes
Hazel eyes only account for 5 percent of the global population and 8 percent of the American population. This eye color is a combination of gold, orange, and green colors. It’s commonly found in North America, South America, and the Middle East. You can also find it in people of Spanish descent.
Hazel eyes are often confused with green and brown eyes. However, they aren’t as rare as green eyes. But hazel eyes are rarer than blue eyes. They are considered to be the most attractive eyes in the world.
Hazel eyes have the second highest level of melanin after brown eyes. The mixture of green (very little melanin) and brown (more melanin) makes hazel eyes very unique. This combination also makes your hazel eyes appear to change color. Although the color of your hazel eyes doesn’t actually shift, the perception does, depending on the amount of light entering your eyes.
Amber eyes tend to have a little more melanin than hazel eyes, but not as much as brown eyes. These eyes account for approximately 5 percent of the global population. They are commonly found in people of Asian, South African, Spanish, and South American descent.
This eye color is also very common in certain types of animals, including cats, owls, wolves, etc. It is mainly associated with a rare type of melanin known as pheomelanin, which is a reddish-yellow pigment that causes your eyes to appear to have a yellowish hue.
5. Green Eyes
Green eyes are quite rare in the world. This eye color accounts for approximately 2 percent of the global population. Green eyes are mainly found in Ireland and Scotland.
Since many Americans are descendants of Irish and Scottish people, quite a significant number of Americans have green eyes. This eye color accounts for about 9 percent of the American population. Green eyes have a little more melanin than blue eyes.
Green eyes don’t actually have green coloration. Although green eyes appear to have a shade of emerald to the naked eye, their irises don’t have any particular pigment. The green color comes from the light that scatters around the iris due to a lack of enough melanin. Also notable is the fact that green eyes can occur in any race.
6. Gray Eyes
Gray eyes account for about 3 percent of the global population. Scientists claim that people with gray eyes have little or no melanin in their irises. However, these people have higher levels of collagen in a specific part of their eyes known as the stroma.
When light enters the eyes, it’s scattered in a way that makes them appear gray. Gray eyes are commonly found in people of European descent, especially those living in Northern and Eastern Europe.
7. Red and Violet Eyes
Red and violet eyes are mainly found in people suffering from albinism. These people have little or no melanin in their irises, which causes their eyes to appear red or violet. Since the melanin in your iris is important for vision and preventing your eyes from getting damaged by the harmful UV rays of the sun, albinos always struggle with poor eyesight.
They usually experience blurry visions and reduced depth perception. People with ocular albinism usually have rapid, spontaneous eye movements, light sensitivity, and eyes that look in two separate directions. Red and violet eyes account for about 1 percent of the global population.