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You may have learned in biology class that your eye color is determined by the genes you inherited. (Genes are essentially “sets of recipes” that are provided in our DNA.) Along with that, you were probably taught about dominant and recessive genes. For eyes, the dominant gene for the color brown always won over the recessive gene for blue eyes. Unfortunately, that information isn’t right. In the past decade, scientists have discovered the influence of genes on eye color is a little more complicated.

A number of different factors define a person’s eye color, the most important of which is eight different color-related genes. The genes control how much melanin, or color pigment, exists in the iris of your eyes. For instance, a gene called OCA2 controls almost 75 percent of the blue-brown color spectrum. Other genes can overrule OCA2, but that rarely happens. This can explain why green eyes are a rarity throughout the world.

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