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Eye Color

September 23, 2008

A listener asks why a baby’s eyes can change color during the first year.


An eye-opening color change….I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Today’s Why Is It question comes from Jessica Puentes of Hollywood, Florida. She wants to know why some babies’ eyes change color after they’re born. Well, Jessica, we consulted Michael Repka, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He says after a baby is born, pigment continues to deposit in the iris of the eye.

DR. MICHAEL REPKA (Johns Hopkins):
It basically will add highlights of brown, but those could be perceived as green or gray or hazel.

The color change is most obvious in light-colored eyes, but it happens in dark-eyed babies as well. Repka says it usually takes a year for a baby’s eyes to settle into their permanent color. If you’ve got a science question, call us at 1-800-WHY-IS-IT. Or visit us on our website, I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.