Colour is in the eye of the beholder

Professor David Mackey AO recently contributed to an article for the BBC on how our eyes can change colour.

It is often said that babies born with blue eyes will experience a change in their eye colour over the first few years of life. However, does research support this theory? In a report by the BBC, who interviewed Professor Mackey, they discuss evidence suggesting there is a genetic element to the propensity to change eye colour.

Many changes in eye colour are harmless, however they can also be linked to injury, infection or sun damage.

For a fascinating read visit the BBC website using this link: How our eyes change colour throughout our lives.

Meanwhile, a paper written in 2021 by Professor Mackey about the genetics of eye colour has become an internet sensation!

Professor David Mackey AO

The paper has been accessed over 64,000 times, which is one new reader every 10 minutes. Professor Mackey decided to use his time in COVID lockdown to write a review article to summarise the basic and more complex genetics that ophthalmologists and their patients need to understand in the genomics era.


“Eye colour, or more accurately iris colour, and colour perception are excellent examples to use when teaching genetics as these topics encompass basic genetics such as dominant and recessive, as well as a number of newer concepts,” said Professor Mackey. Using themes from popular culture, such as the social media trend of “#thedress” and the hit television show Game of Thrones, Professor Mackey explained how colour perception is influenced by concepts beyond genetics, such as optics, physiology and psychology.

The article, titled “What colour are your eyes? Teaching the genetics of eye colour and colour vision.” is now being used in secondary schools to teach students about the genetics of eye colour and can be found at go.nature.com/3bXWplf.








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