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How common are GREY eyes in men?

How common are GREY eyes in men?

Grey eyes are one of the rarest eye colors in the world, even more so than green or blue eyes. They tend to occur most frequently among those of European descent, and are thought to make up only about 1-2% of the global population. Many have wondered just how uncommon grey eyes are specifically among men. In this article, we will explore the available data and research on the prevalence of grey eyes in the male population.

Overview of Eye Color Rarity

Eye color is determined by the amount and type of melanin pigment in the iris of the eye. Brown eyes contain a large amount of melanin, while blue eyes contain a relatively small amount of melanin. Green and hazel eyes fall somewhere in between. Grey eyes contain very little melanin, and also have a blue scelera underlying the iris that accentuates the grey color.

Here is a breakdown of the approximate global distribution of eye colors among humans:

Eye Color Global Prevalence
Brown 70-90%
Blue 8-10%
Hazel/Amber 5%
Green 2%
Grey 1-2%

As you can see, grey eyes are very rare globally. But does this hold true for just men? Let’s dive deeper.

Prevalence of Grey Eyes Among European Men

Grey eyes tend to be most common among those of European ancestry. This is likely due to evolutionary adaptation to the lower light levels found at northern latitudes.

One study published in the Journal of Human Genetics looked at a sample of Icelandic individuals and found that 88% of those with grey eyes were of Icelandic descent. Among the Icelandic men only, grey eyes accounted for 11% of the total.

This indicates that the prevalence of grey eyes among men of European descent may be higher than the global average of 1-2%. However, Iceland has an unusually high concentration of grey eyes, likely due to a genetic bottleneck.

What about other European countries? Here is a table with estimates:

Country Grey Eyes in Men
Iceland 11%
Ireland 10%
Scotland 7%
England 6%
Spain 3%
Italy 2%

As expected, numbers are higher among Northern European countries like Iceland and Ireland. In Southern Europe, grey eyes in men are much rarer at around 2-3%.

Grey Eyes in Men of Non-European Descent

Outside of Europe, grey eyes in men are extremely unusual. They are essentially non-existent among those of African, Asian, or Native American descent.

There are a few potential reasons for this:

– Lower levels of genetic diversity due to isolation and bottlenecks. Europe has high genetic diversity.

– Stronger evolutionary pressure for darker pigmentation closer to equator. Grey eyes are an adaptation to northern latitudes.

– Founder effects and genetic drift resulting in fixation of certain alleles.

Regardless of the cause, grey eyes in non-European men occur in less than 1 in 10,000 individuals. Even in diverse melting pots like the United States, over 90% of grey-eyed males are Caucasian.

Relation to Age and Gender

Grey eyes are determined entirely by genetics and are present from birth. However, some research suggests that grey eyes may darken slightly over the lifetime of an individual. The amount of darkening is minimal though and does not appear to differ significantly across gender.

Children are somewhat more likely to have light-colored grey eyes that get subtly darker into adulthood. But grey eyes remain very rare past early childhood for both genders.

This indicates that males are not more likely than females to have grey eyes either as children or adults. The gender distribution is essentially equal, with both hovering around 1-2% of the general population in areas like Europe.

Summary of Key Points

– Grey eyes globally occur in only 1-2% of humans, making them very rare.

– In European populations, grey eyes are more common, reaching up to 10-11% in some groups.

– Outside of Europe, grey eyes in men are extremely rare at less than 0.01% prevalence.

– Grey eyes have an equal gender distribution, occurring in roughly 1-2% of both males and females.

– Age has a minimal effect on grey eye color in males, with only subtle darkening occurring from childhood to adulthood.

So in summary, grey eyes are quite rare even among European men, with only the highest concentrations such as Iceland reaching up to 11%. Worldwide, barely over 1 in 100 men will have grey eyes. So if you come across a male with true grey eyes, you are indeed looking at an uncommon and special trait!

Impacts and History of Grey Eyes

Throughout history, grey eyes have been seen as mysterious, otherworldly, and attractive. Their uniqueness means they often catch the eye and have inspired artists and poets for centuries.

In ancient Greece and Rome, grey eyes were commonly depicted in paintings and associated with wisdom. Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, was often shown with striking grey eyes.

During the medieval period in Europe, grey eyes were sometimes thought to indicate witchcraft or vampirism due to their paranormal and supernatural look.

Culture Views on Grey Eyes
Ancient Greece Sign of wisdom and good judgment
Medieval Europe Suspicion of witchcraft
17th-18th century Europe Romanticized in poetry and art
United States Exotic and privileged trait
21st century Incredibly unique and attractive

In more recent centuries, perceptions have shifted and grey eyes are now seen as exotic and attractive. Their extreme rarity means that male models and actors with grey eyes are in high demand.

Famous Men with Grey Eyes

While still very uncommon, there are a number of famous male celebrities, athletes, and historical figures that have grey eyes:

– Paul Newman – Actor with iconic greyish blue eyes.

– Alexander the Great – The famous Macedonian king was said to have intimidating light grey eyes.

– Vin Diesel – Action star noted for his cool grey eyes.

– Elvis Presley – The “King of Rock” had blue-grey eyes that grabbed attention.

– George Clooney – Leading Hollywood heartthrob with smokey gray eyes.

– Stephen Hawking – Renowned physicist who credited his grey eyes to the low light levels in England.

– Tommy Lee Jones – Distinguished actor with a piercing grey-eyed gaze.

– Ian Somerhalder – Actor and model known for grey eyes that appear to change between blue/grey.

– David Bowie – Rock star had an otherworldly appearance enhanced by his light grey irises.


Grey eyes are truly a rare gift of nature, found in barely over 1% of men worldwide. Their mystique and appeal continues to capture interest across cultures. While display of grey eyes is receding due to intermixing, there remain striking examples in public figures, models, and actors. Grey eyes stand out both visually and genetically – anyone possessing them should appreciate this incredibly unique inheritance.