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  • Writer's pictureMaria Cholakova

Baby Eye Color Change

Newborns may exhibit eyes of varying shades and colors. However, the permanent color of the iris develops over time. So when you notice your baby's eye color changing - that's normal. The baby eye color change happens through an evolving process influenced by genetics, melanin production, and other factors.

In our publication, we will talk about the dynamics of infant eye color development.

What Determines a Baby's Eye Color?

Genetic Basis of Eye Color

Eye color inheritance follows a complex pattern involving genes. Variations in these genes contribute to the eye colors. The both parents genes and ancestry genetics contribute to how a baby's eyes will turn out.

The main determinant of eye color is the presence and distribution of melanin, a pigment produced by specialized cells (melanocytes).

Two major types of melanin, eumelanin and pheomelanin, interact to determine eye colors ranging from blue to brown.

A darker eye color from birth tends to stay dark into adulthood. It is also common for lighter eyes at birth to get darker with the rise of melanin production.

In uncommon cases, lack of melanin is responsible for the rarest eyes in the world. Those are eyes with a "transparent" iris, making eyes seem purple or red.

Babies could also have heterochromia at birth, which means each eye may be a different color or have contrasting iris sections.

External Influences

Beyond genetic traits, eye color development in babies is affected by external factors like light exposure.

Sunlight stimulates melanin production, which can prematurely darken the eyes. Conversely, long-term exposure to low levels of light can delay melanin deposition, prolonging lighter eye color.

Also, environmental factors such as location and seasonal variation in solar radiation intensity can cause local differences in eye color distribution.

Clinical Implications

Although the appearance of eye color in babies is essentially normal and benign, there are certain dynamics in clinical settings.

Sudden or dramatic baby eye color change may lead clinicians to assess medical conditions expression or genetic abnormalities involved in melanin production.

Accurate assessment of eye color development in babies also helps diagnose eye diseases and facilitate meaningful discussions about genetic counseling.

The Blue Eye Myth

Not all babies are born with blue eyes, despite the popular belief. We need to dispel this myth to avoid misconceptions about infant development and genetics.

Even if a baby does start with blue eyes, the eventual permanent eye color of the child is variable and may change in the first few months.

RELATED: Baby Eye Color Statistics

infant with blue eyes before Baby Eye Color Change

Why and When Babies Change Their Eye Color?

Talking about baby eye color change, we have to discuss eye development in infants, too.

At birth, most infants possess eyes with minimal melanin deposition. Thus, the common eye shades in newborns are blue, gray, or even slate.

We attribute the initial coloration of baby eyes to the low levels of melanin production, along with the structural properties of the iris.

Over the next few months, melanocytes become increasingly active. That's when parents and caregivers may notice a gradual darkening of the iris. In simple words, baby eye color changes as melanin accumulates.

The developmental timeline of this transformation varies among individuals.

Babies experience rapid eye color changes within the first year*, while others may continue to see subtle shifts well into childhood, up until they are 3 years old.

*According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, by about 9 months old, most babies will have their permanent eye color.

In summary...

Baby eye color change is a fascinating phenomenon in early child development. Watching this transformation unfold is a reminder of the wonders of the human body and an exciting experience for parents and caregivers.


Checked by Atanas Bogoev, MD.


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