What does it mean to have grey eyes?

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Grey eyes come with countless meanings and interpretations. It’s an uncommon eye color with ancient symbolism; those with grey eyes are among the rarest people on the planet, making up less than 1% of the global population. They have held significance throughout history, from the ancient world, where they were associated with wisdom and strength, to modern spirituality in which they are associated with serenity and neutrality.  

Grey eye color is most common among those with Eastern and Northern European heritage, though it’s also prominent among the Algerian Shawia People in Northwest Africa. Much of the mystery surrounding grey eyes probably stems from their rarity. 

All You Need to Know About Grey Eyes 

To understand what it means to have grey eyes, we must understand the science behind different eye colors. The colored part of the eye is called the iris, and it consists of two layers of epithelium. These layers contain melanin, and they’re separated by the stroma, a connective tissue that contains collagen. The amount of melanin in the iris combined with the collagen density determines a person’s eye color.

Brown eyes have plenty of melanin in both layers of the iris, which absorbs much of the light that hits it. In lighter eyes, with less melanin in the front layer, more light travels to the back of the eye and is reflected off the melanin there. This light then moves through the stroma, where the collagen bends the light, giving off a blueish hue.

Scientists believe that there is more collagen in grey eyes, which refracts the light differently from blue eyes – much like clouds might make the blue sky look grey.

Grey Eyes Are More Susceptible to UV Light 

Due to the reduced melanin in grey eyes, they have less protection from UV rays. This means that grey-eyed people should ensure their sunglasses have UV protection and be diligent in wearing them, even when the sky is overcast. Grey-eyed people may be more inclined to wear sunglasses anyway, as they may find that their eyes are more sensitive to light than those with brown eyes or black eyes.

This sensitivity is called photophobia and is often unpleasant, causing a dull ache around the eyes. On occasion, it can even cause problems focusing when in harsh light environments. Fortunately, the effects of photophobia are only ever temporary and never cause any long-term damage.

More Serious Medical Issues Related to Grey Eyes

The low levels of pigment in the eyes can result in higher risks of eye health complications than other colors in the eye color chart. We already know you can protect your charming grey eyes with sunglasses that feature UV protection. However, people with grey eyes usually have light skin complexion, making them more susceptible to certain skin cancer types.

The pigmentation caused by the melanin in the eyes helps protect them from light. The lack of melanin means that people with grey eyes are at a higher risk of melanoma of the uvea.

However, this shouldn’t be too much cause for concern as it only affects 0.0006% of the US population, and sunglasses are an easy form of defense.

The other health risk associated with grey eyes is age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), which can cause blurred vision or no vision in the central field of view. While it rarely causes complete blindness, ARMD can make it difficult to recognize faces and perform basic daily tasks like reading and driving. 

Goddess Athena and Grey Eyes in Ancient Greece

In Homer’s Odyssey, the ancient Greek goddess Athena was said to have had grey eyes. Athena’s grey eyes symbolized perceptiveness, wisdom, and creativity. Athena was the goddess of wisdom and warfare, and this association has led to those with grey eyes being considered wise and unfaltering. Athena was also the goddess of handicrafts, and so it was believed that those with grey eyes also hold a practical but creative side.

Athena’s grey eyes looked much like her owl’s eyes, with whom she is often depicted. Owls are known for their round glittering eyes, which are an excellent tool for hunting at night. Thus, Athena’s grey eyes are also associated with her perceptiveness, much like an owl – her gleaming silver eyes were able to see the truth through the darkness.

Despite being the goddess of warfare, Athena preferred to seek out peaceful resolutions. However, when she did fight, she was nothing short of fierce. This fair but just nature is also one of the features still present in modern spirituality about grey eyes.

Grey Eyes in Modern Spirituality

Grey eyes have a major spiritual significance in the modern world. A grey aura is commonly associated with monks, nuns, and others committed to a higher power. Some of the contemporary associations include:

  • Restraint – a commitment to a simple life
  • Serenity – a calm and practical nature
  • Wisdom – an ability to see the world for what it is

Those with grey eyes are also considered able to keep secrets, due to their sage ability to listen unjudgementally. Spiritually, this can be related to the idea that grey eyes absorb more light, much like their possessors. They are devoted to whatever they set their mind to, though this is often more likely to be a dedication to professional or spiritual life, rather than a busy personal life.

While some could say that grey is associated with a neutral indifference, it is this neutrality that allows grey-eyed people to be calm and practical. This composed nature allows grey-eyed people to live a simple life, often without judgment of others or themselves.

Some Grey-Eyed People Are Considered Magical

Due to their low pigment levels, grey eyes may often change color. This change is often triggered by what a person is wearing, the colors around them, or even the color of the sky. Much like the sky and sea usually look different based on what kind of light they reflect, the same can happen with grey eyes. For this reason, their color may appear blue or even green.

Oddly enough, a grey-eyed person’s mood can also impact the color of their eyes. When their emotions change, their pupils will also change size. The process leads to the iris becoming more or less compressed and changing color along the way.

This has led to the association of magic with grey-eyed people, whose eyes can reflect the world around them and their own internal mood. It is most likely one of the reasons why many consider people with grey eyes to be wise. Just like their eyes, grey-eyed people can adapt to the world around them.


Grey color is the result of low levels of melanin in the eyes, which leads to low levels of pigmentation and highly reflective eyes. They are extremely rare genetically and can change color depending on the surroundings and mood of the person. The low pigment levels can carry several health risks, but these are easily solved by wearing sunglasses.

The rarity and adaptability of the eyes come with a number of spiritual meanings, including wisdom and serenity, with ferocity when pushed to fight.


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