Green eye colour is the rarest in the world. Only 2% of people globally have green eyes. But in their rarity, there are lots of interesting green eye facts.
Did you know…?
- The largest concentration of green eyed people is in Ireland, Scotland and Northern Europe.
In Ireland and Scotland, 86% of people have either blue or green eyes.
There have been 16 genes identified that contribute to eye colour. This means that no matter what colour eyes your parents have, yours can be pretty much any colour.
All races, including Caucasian, African, Asian, Pacific Islanders, Arabic, Hispanic and the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas can have green eyes.
This is because green eyes are heavily influenced by your environment…
- Green is actually not a pigmentation of the iris at all. Green eyes are a curious blend of light brown pigmentation, a yellowish lipochrome pigment, and a splash of Rayleigh scattering.
In humans, the pigmentation of an iris ranges from very light amber yellow to a very dark brown, bordering on black. The darkness of the iris depends on its concentration of melanin.
Rayleigh Scattering is the dispersion of light as it bounces off of air molecules. This helps determine eye colour as different light waves are captured in your eye pigment.
This same scattering of light occurs in the sky which makes it appear blue.
Because of this, green eyes do not appear immediately in babies…
- All babies are born with blue or brown eyes. Green eyes can take between 6 months and 3 years to appear in children.
There is a village in north western China called Liqian, whose people are thought to be descended from Roman General Marcus Crassus’ mysteriously missing army. Two-thirds of the inhabitants today have green eyes and blonde hair.
Green Eye Superstitions
People with green eyes are thought to share character traits. But your eye colour has no affect on your personality.
Shakespeare coined the phrase “green-eyed” to convey jealousy. In The Merchant of Venice the green is suggestive of illness…
How all the other passions fleet to air,
As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embraced despair,
And shuddering fear, and green-eyed jealousy! O love,
Be moderate; allay thy ecstasy,
In measure rein thy joy; scant this excess.
I feel too much thy blessing: make it less,
For fear I surfeit.
While in Othello, the “green-eyed monster” alludes to the cat-like nature of jealousy in how it toys with our emotions.
O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;
But, O, what damned minutes tells he o’er
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!
Despite being the rarest eye colour in real life, green eyes are EVERYWHERE in fiction. Green eyes are used as a sort of visual shorthand to suggest a character being exotic, attractive and/or evil.
A short list of green eyed characters in fiction…
- The Lady – The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
- Harry Potter – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by K Rowling
- Marcone – Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
- Jane Eyre – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Petyr Baelish – A Song of Fire & Ice George R. R. Martin
- Scar – The Lion King
- Loki – Thor
- The Mad Hatter – Alice in Wonderland (2010)
- Mary Jane Watson – The Amazing Spider-Man comics
- Catwoman – Batman comics
So there you have it, we bet you didn’t even know a quarter of these green eye facts. If you know any we haven’t listed here, let us know on our Facebook page.