Can Black People Have Blue Eyes? There are a couple of reasons why this may occur for black folks. According to Professor Hans Eiberg, this could surface as a result of genetic mutations in your chromosome, particularly affecting the OCA2 gene, which leads to a change from normal brown eyes to that of the color blue. It could also be a result of an alteration in the key color gene of your eyes.
Another reason why a black person could have blue eyes is due to ancestral lineage. If as a black person, you somehow have a European or caucasian gene, then you might have picked it there through a recessive gene. However, there are cases where having a blue eye as a black person could be a result of a pigmentation disorder, known as the Waardenburg syndrome. Let’s explore this further.
Also Read: Can Two White People Have a Black Baby?
Does Waardenburg Syndrome give Black people Blue eyes?
Waardenburg syndrome is a disease that brings different genetic disorders into the human system.
There are 4 types of Waardenburg syndrome, type I, II, III, and IV. Type I & II usually have similar symptoms and are majorly responsible for the blue-eye effect for black people.
It also brings certain levels of deafness for some and variations in pigmentation (pigments are responsible for the color of our skin, hair, and eyes).
The percentage of those who have hearing disorders as a result of Waardenburg usually experience either a moderate level of deafness or in extreme cases complete deafness in both. People with the syndrome experience the symptoms right from birth, alongside the blue eye. Those with the disease often have pale blue eyes, different colors in the two eyes, or even different color segments in one eyeball, usually a blend of both blue and brown.
The Genetic Mutation of Blue-Eyed Blacks
There are occasions where the cause of the blue eyes possessed by black people are as a result of a genetic disease like the Waardenburg Syndrome, as we’ve seen early. Some medical scientists believe that it is a result of genetic variations and mutation.
One such scientist is Professor Hans Eiberg, who specialized in Cellular and Molecular medicine. According to him, the blue eyes we see among blacks are due to a genetic mutation that affects the OCA2 gene in their chromosomes, resulting in the creation of a “switch” that makes it possible to “turn off” the gene responsible for giving brown eyes.
Now, don’t get lost here, the switch often locates itself at the adjacent side of the OCA2. Although the switch is responsible for turning off the ability to produce brown eyes, it, however, doesn’t turn it off completely. Instead, it limits itself to reducing the creation of melanin in the iris.
In the process of reducing the quantity of melanin created in the iris, the brown eyes get diluted into the blue. Melanin is the proteinous pigment responsible for the variety of hair, skin, and eye colors you see across nations. And it gets its source from the OCA2 gene.
You might want to ask, what happens then if the switch is completely turned off? Well, if it goes off entirely, then there would be no melanin in certain areas of the body, which includes the hair, skin, and eyes, leading therefore to a condition you commonly see amongst people who are called albinos.
Let’s simplify it further to be sure you are clear. Your eyes have the color they do because of the amount of melanin that is created in your iris.
So, the several colors of skin, hair, and eye you see across people of different countries are as a result of the quantity of melanin they have in their bodies. If you were to observe, be it in reality or movies you would notice people with different colors of iris ranging from shades of brown, to grey, to green, and blue.
Does Ancestral Lineage Cause Blacks to Have Blue Eyes?
Still on the research carried out by Professor Hans in 1996, his team as well as he took it upon themselves to understand the reason for the rare blue eyes color.
From his research, he concluded that those who have blue eyes all came from the same ancestral lineage. This is because he noticed that every blue-eyed person who he had examined had the same switch on an exact spot in their DNA.
During his research, Prof. Hans decided to examine the DNA of a Mitochondrial, in contrast to that of several blue-eyed people across countries like Turkey and Jordan. It was an account of this genetic research that he considered OCA2 the major reason for variation in eye colors.
Aside from genetic variation and condition, there are still other means through which a black individual can have bright blue eyes.
The blue eye color is mainly seen among Europeans and Caucasians. During colonization, blacks were taken as slaves in foreign white nations, while some black cliffed to themselves, some were joined to the white, and their offspring were commonly called half-casts.
With this, it is easy to understand why some genetic variations can be seen among blacks. So, as a black with blue eyes, there may be a genetic link to such white people.
The occurrence of this eye color is usually rare because it can take generations down the line before a blue-eyed child can be born among blacks.
You might wonder why it takes so long before such an occurrence. One scientific reason for this can be accredited to recessive genes. Let’s use an example to help you understand the concept of a recessive gene.
Biologically, as a child you inherit two genes, one gene comes from your father and the other gene from your mother.
Since brown is the common eye color you see especially amongst black people, it is seen as the dominant gene which we would identify as “Y”. While blue is the recessive gene which would be identified as “y”.
So here is how it works. Say your mother has gene Yy and your father has gene Yy. if your gene is “YY”, then you have a dominant gene that produces brown-coloured eyes, also, if your gene is “Yy”, you still possess a dominant gene. But if your gene happens to be “yy ”, then a recessive gene has surfaced, giving you a blue eye.
However, the case of a recessive gene occurring is often one out of four (¼). This is because there is a genetic cross-calculation that must bring about this result.
The genetic calculation is also what plays in Sickle cell anemia (SS), in this case, both father and mother are AS and AS. Although the gene combination will be AA, and AS, there is also a likelihood of having a SS.
Can parents who both have brown eyes give birth to a baby with blue eyes?
The answer to this question is a Yes, a mother and a father can both have brown eyes, and still give birth to a child with blue eyes. However for this to occur, these two parents must both be carriers of the excessive gene “y”, just like our earlier example stated.
So as one with a brown eye your gene can either be “YY”, or “Yy”, but one with blue eye would definitely be a “yy”, inheriting the first “y” from the mother and the second from the father. However, it is rare to see a combination of parents who both possess the recessive gene since marriage commonly happens between dominant genes.
Although we’ve tried to simplify this genetic calculation, it is more complex than it sounds. A combination of two or more genes will be crossed to produce a particulate eye color.
But for the blue eye to occur at least two genes have to be carriers of the blue eye and getting such a carrier is quite rare.
What if I don’t have any symptoms of the Waardenburg Syndrome & there are no white ancestral traces?
Maybe you are among the few blacks who have blue eyes and you took time to carefully inquire about your ancestral line, only to confirm that you have no DNA link with white folks.
Here is a suitable explanation for your blue eyes: a major eye color gene might have mutated, causing the pigments in your iris to produce blue eyes. It is also possible that your gene might be a pioneer to more genes like yours in the future.
Gene mutations such as this are also the reason for several rare and beautiful colors in different parts of the body.
The Myth Behind Blue-Eyed Blacks
While surfing the net on a bus, I came across a picture of a young black boy who had bright blue eyes. Unknown to me, my seat partner took note of the picture on my phone and asked me if the eyes of the young black boy were really blue. You could as well say he was asking the question, “can black people have blue eyes?”
Well Yes, black people can have blue eyes, although this can be seen in one out of thousands. While it is understandable to consider it not so normal to see a pure black child with a blue eye, it is not so acceptable to link it to negative spiritualism. Due to ignorance, some blacks consider children with such color of eye to be bad.
A Nigerian man had to send his wife and two children packing, simply because both children have blue eyes and his parents were not comfortable with it. However, with all that has been explained, we know better now.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Where do blue-eyes originate from?
Although a percentage of people might have come to accept the possibility of blacks having blue eyes. However, it might interest you to know the main root or origin of blue eye folks. Well, research carried out by the University of Copenhagen reveals that blue eyes were originally discovered on the northeast coast of the black sea.
Researchers tell us that the major population of people with blue eyes are Europeans and that most African with blue eyes have ancestral links with the blacks that were taken into captivity during colonization. However professors Hans proposed the possibility of genetic variation, which can alter the genetic program in the human system. So, we might not boldly say that all blue eye folks come from a single ancestry.
How is OCA2 connected to the effect of blue eyes among blacks?
Still based on the research of Professor Hans Eiberg alongside other researchers. The OCA2 is responsible for the brown eyes color we are used to. But when it comes to those with blue eyes, it was discovered that a certain genetic mutation occurs which turns off their OCA2, giving way to a blue-colored eye in the place of brown.
This mutation is said to occur in a gene called HERC2. This HERC2 gene is the switch professor Hans talked about, which he said was located on the adjacent side of the OCA2. Surprisingly this gene is found in every blue-eyed individual, whites as well as blacks.
It’s your turn…
The occurrence of blue eyes amongst black people can be a result of ancestral genes, genetic mutations, or due to the Waardenburg syndrome.
In terms of the genetic mutations, the mutation of a blue or brown is not negative, neither does it reduce or increase your lifespan, it rather expresses the beauty of biology. However, in some cases, the blue eyes you see among black can be a result of the Waardenburg disease which is also accompanied by deafness.
On a personal note, I consider blue-eyed folks to be beautiful regardless. So here is virtually all you need to know about blue-eyed blacks. Let me know what you think about blacks with blue eyes, or if you happen to be among the few out of thousands who possess blue eyes as a black, then, I will be delighted to have you share your experience with us in the comment section.
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