Hey, Matt: My friend’s baby was born with light blue eyes, but they changed to a sort of hazel color as she got older. What makes this happen? And can adults change the color of their eyes? Without colored contacts, anyway. — Jane, via email
Grandma’s baby-blues spotted this question and had to have it. I’d like the week off, anyway. So, take it away, Grandma.
“Thanks, Matthew. While I’m doing this, why don’t you put the pepperoni casserole in the oven and start making that Jell-O mold.”
Um, I don’t do Jell-O, Grandma. What’s the recipe?
“Look on the box. My Lord, what a dim lot I have to put up with around here. So, those big googly baby eyes. One of the main pigments in the irises of our eyes is melanin, responsible for all things brown on our bodies. The M.D.s have found blue and yellow pigment cells in there too. Light reflected back from our own personal genetically determined brown-blue-yellow combo gives us our eye color. Babies born with light eyes can, by about age three, end up with darker eyes because exposure to sunlight activates certain cells in the irises’ color layers to produce more melanin pigments. Gradually more melanin, gradually darker eyes.
“Genes and the body’s chemical environment (especially hormones) keep adult eye color mostly steady. Puberty and pregnancy are hormone disrupters that might change adult eye color. So might medications. Seen those Brooke Shields commercials for the eyelash-grower Latisse? Catch the line that says it might darken your irises? Latisse was originally Lumigan, a glaucoma med. But when Lumigan’s makers noticed that their glaucoma patients were all walking around with sexy, thick lashes, they changed its name and hopped on the bus to Incredibly Wealthyland by hawking the stuff as an irresistible cosmetic product.
“If you’re willing to wing down to Panama, you can have colored discs implanted over your irises to permanently change your eye color. You might have to go to Japan for some tricky eye drops that work for about 12 hours. But they can change your eyes to purple, if that suits you. Some people find that the color of a shirt or even eye makeup can affect what color their eyes appear to be. Light coming into your eyes includes reflected light from both sources."
May the Force Be with Me
Dear Matt: The information you gave to Sir Anthony regarding the Coriolis Effect is wrong. Water masses rotate in a clockwise direction north of the equator and in a counterclockwise direction south of the equator, not the other way around as you stated in your column. Perhaps you need to enroll in my Physical Geography class at Mesa College so you can learn all about the Coriolis Effect & other wonders pertaining to the Earth. — Dr. Kenneth J.E. Berger, Geography, S.D. Mesa College
Whew! It’s been a rough two weeks here at the Matthew Alice College of Disposable Knowledge. Over the years we’ve explained the Coriolis force many times and gotten it right on each try. No explanation for why the machinery fell apart on this one.
¿Que onda? Well, More Bad Facts, of Course, Wavy Gravy Division
Dear Matt: 4th paragraph: “Since sound is an electromagnetic impulse, same as light, just at a different frequency…” leaves me flabbergasted. I may have to edit my mind of all the past information I have gleaned from your well-written column (or should Grandma take the hit on this one?). What happened this time? Does sound propagate in a vacuum? It is transmitted along railroad lines. I never thought my ears would really work with electromagnetic waves (maybe my tooth filling is picking up KOGO’s AM broadcast?). — Peter, via email
(An even more dumbfounded response came in from Jim Means out in Alpine.) Okay, okay. After this one, we rounded up all the elves, got them to stop giggling and to stand in a straight line and listen up. Grandma gave a riveting speech about how we’re all sworn to the responsibility of flinging facts to a truth-hungry public, or at least that part of a truth-hungry public stupid enough to believe us. I followed up with orders to send everybody back to fact-finder boot camp. While the elves are off getting the tar kicked out of them, I’ll be in charge of things here. I hope it helps, but I’m sure you all realize the precarious nature of this weird circus we call “Straight from the Hip.”