Why Does Eye Color Change with Age? A Michigan Eye Doctor Explains

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How Eye Color Can Change

Aside from the brain, the eyes are probably the most complex organ in the human body. They can bring our world into focus, bend light, and grant us vision. However, for many of us, the most fascinating thing about eyes is their color. Some people may believe that their eye color has changed over time. This leads us to the question, can eye color change with age?

Does Eye Color Change With Age?

Well, that depends. Most people’s eye colors will fully mature during infancy. You know how some babies are born with those steel blue eyes, that turn to another color over time? That is an example of eyes becoming fully mature. Some people are even born with the eye color that they will have their entire life.

For a small percentage of people, their eyes actually can change color. With age, eyes can naturally become either darker or lighter.

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What Causes Eye Color to Change As You Get Older?

Pigment melanin is what determines eye color. The more connective tissue at the front of the iris called the stroma, the darker the eyes are. Eyes with less connective tissue tend to be of a lighter color.

For many people, their melanin levels will remain the same their entire life, meaning that their eye color stays the same.

Sometimes, a change in eye color is just a simple part of aging and is harmless. However, there are a few things that can permanently change melanin levels.

Ocular diseases, such as pigmentary glaucoma, can change melanin levels. Genetics could also cause eye color to change over time.

Heterochromia, also known as multi-colored eyes, can cause eye color to change over time as well. This disease is often caused by a traumatic injury. Around 1% of the population has heterochromatic eyes.

The answer is, while most people will have the same eye color throughout their entire life, some people will notice an eye color change with age. Some people find their eye color to be very significant and take this information seriously, whereas other people don’t care what color their eye is, as long as they can still see.

Can Sun Exposure Change Eye Color?

Sun exposure cannot permanently change the color of your eyes. However, sun exposure can stimulate melanin production in the eyes and lead to the appearance of small brown spots on the iris also known as “eye freckles”. It is important to note that prolonged and unprotected exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays can cause damage to the eyes, such as an increased risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Therefore, it is best to wear protective eyewear, such as sunglasses with 100% UV protection, and a hat when spending time outdoors to reduce the risk of eye damage.

Contact Michigan Eye Institute today if you notice a change in eye color or to learn more about keeping your eyes healthy!

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