Eye Color Trends in the United States

Before the turn of the century, more than half of the residents of the United States were blue-eyed Caucasians, but that is no longer the case. In fact, the odds are that a baby born in this country today will grow up with brown eyes. By 1950, fewer than 35 percent of the American population had blue eyes. Most recently, that percentage has dwindled to about 17 percent. Worldwide, the number of people with blue eyes is even less at only about eight percent. In the United States, both the huge influx of immigrants from Hispanic and Asian countries and the increased acceptance of interracial relationships and the children born of those unions have caused this shift from a blue-eyed to a brown-eyed population.

Interestingly, how we are treated by others still plays into the stereotypes that are associated with famous people and literary characters. Dating as far back as the Middle Ages, blonde hair, fair skin and blue eyes were indicators of beauty, fertility and success. Marilyn Monroe and the fashion models of the ‘70s and ‘80s were more recent examples of this Hollywood image, but Paris Hilton, whose eye color is naturally brown, carries it on today by wearing bright blue contacts to support and preserve, in her own words, "her iconic image." Those "baby blues" may be soft and calming or as piercing as Superman’s. However, the connotation behind the "blonde with blue eyes" stereotype also reflects lower confidence, self-esteem, intelligence and aggression. People with blue eyes are more susceptible to eye diseases such as macular degeneration. They are also more sensitive to light. Boys are slightly more apt to have blue eyes than girls.

Like Paris Hilton, many people choose to change their eye color by using contact lenses. Blue is still the most popular choice, with green second and brown following. The "Twilight" series has created an interest in honey, Topaz and amber contacts as well. Lady Gaga wears gray lenses, which are specially designed to make her pupils appear larger. Brittany Spears covers her brown eyes with green contacts.

Trends, however, are changing. The top fashion models today are brown-eyed beauties from Brazil. Traditionally, this color reflects a sense of gentleness, loyalty and trustworthiness. Perhaps "big brown puppy-dog eyes" are responsible for this characterization. In reality, people seem to consider those with brown eyes to be more self-confident and driven.

Green eyes are much rarer and the frequent choice for magical, mysterious movie and literary characters. Often paired with red hair and Irish heritage, this eye color has traditionally been a sign of a fiery temper, sexiness and high energy.

Hazel eyes switch between green and brown depending upon the light source and possible the mood of the owner. These eyes can almost appear golden at times. People whose eyes are hazel may seem more approachable, fun and even a little mischievous.

Gray eyes are a version of blue and associated with the wisdom and gentleness that comes with aging and gray hair. They often seem to intensify or weaken with various light settings. People with gray eyes may be perceived as the least aggressive. Amber eyes have yellow pigments and are extremely rare, black eyes are really dark brown, and red/violet eyes are found exclusively in albinos. If the eyes are truly the "windows of the soul," they will continue to be one of the most important features when judging the attractiveness and appeal of another individual, and statistically, those eyes will probably be brown.