Friday, December 07, 2012

Blue Eyes, Blacks And Occular Albinism

Photographs of this lad have been making the rounds, with what I believe to be a poor explanation of his blue eyes, on top of all the people who claim that it is a case of blatant photoshopping (forgery). He is from Zimbabwe and the photographer was Vanessa Bristow.

It seems that Ms. Bristow happened upon him on a visit to Maramani, and gained his mother's permission to take his photo. That same photographer enlisted the opinion of an ophthalmologist friend to explain his blue eyes - and this is the part that gets me. Rather than describe the ease at which benign mutations of the eye color gene(s) occur in all people, the expert proposes a more far-fetched diagnosis - occular albinism - in light of all we know about eyes and can deduce about this boy.

While it is certainly possible, occular albinism does not normally present blue eyes, but rather green to brown, with three other visible symptoms, poor vision, lazy eye, and involuntary eye movement - none of which the photographer noted or captured. Furthermore, the female carrier of this condition will normally show hyper/hypo-iris pigmentation and iris trans-illumination as evidence. Again, the photographer noted none of these issues in her description of her interactions with the boy's mother. These absences are cause for pause.

Whether it's people claiming a photoshop fake, or doctors reaching past the obvious, it appears that both the ignorant and the educated continue to cling to the notion that blacks cannot simply have blue or green eyes in the same way that those eye colors came about in whites - first by mutation and supported by positive sexual selection. But for the fact that blue eyes and intense African (equatorial) sun are a bad combination for health and longevity, there would be a world full of blue-eyed black people (I suspect) - and others as well.

James C. Collier


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~~Silk said...

You've posted several times in the past about light eyes, and I have been several times tempted to comment. Today's the day.

I am a 60s-ish white female with light eyes. What color they are depends on my surroundings and my clothing. Sometimes they're light green-gray, sometimes light blue, most often light gray. Sometimes there's a slight rim of brownish around the outer edges of the iris.

In my youth, people would often (but not always) describe my eyes as green. In middle age they usually said blue. Now they mostly say gray (again, it depends on surroundings and clothing, so it changes. These days I wear a lot of black.).

Every time I visited an ophthalmologist (I am nearsighted) I would ask, "What color are my eyes?" Without exception, they'd peer into my eyes through the machine and say, "No color. You have no color in your iris." Some have added, "You have albino eyes."

What color an albino eye appears depends entirely on the color of the light reflected through the cornea. Interestingly, ordinary mirrors do not reflect blue very well (that's why "blue-haired ladies" don't know their hair is blue), so when I look in the mirror, I always see green eyes. Only in photos do I see anything else. And that's why I always ask the ophthalmologist.

Anonymous said...

The first picture is very cute. He is endearing lol