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Clin Exp Optom. 2015 Mar;98(2):172-6. doi: 10.1111/cxo.12209. Epub 2014 Sep 24.

Don't it make your brown eyes blue? A comparison of iris colour across latitude in Australian twins.

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Lions Eye Institute, Centre for Ophthalmology and Visual Science, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia; Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Department of Ophthalmology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.



The aim was to determine whether latitudinal (Queensland versus Tasmania) variation in reported disease frequency in Australia may be biased by differences in population.


A retrospective analysis was conducted from data of two large Australian twin studies (n = 1,835) having undertaken ophthalmic examination, namely, Twins Eye Study in Tasmania (TEST) and the Brisbane Adolescent Twins Study (BATS). Ordinal logistic regression was used to compute odds ratios and predicted probabilities for each category of eye colour by state.


Tasmanian residence was associated with lower odds of darker iris colour (odds ratio 0.77, 95% CI [0.63-0.95]) signifying that participants living in Tasmania (TAS) are less likely to have darker-coloured irides than those residing in Queensland (QLD). For individuals living in Tasmania the predicted probability (TAS versus QLD) of having light blue eyes was greater (16.7 versus 13.3 per cent), approximately the same for green eyes and less for brown/dark brown-coloured eyes (6.2 versus 7.9 per cent).


We found a general trend of individuals living in the southern states (TAS/VIC) of Australia having lighter-coloured irides compared to those living in the north (QLD). This finding has potential implications for all epidemiological research conducted to explore differences in UV-associated disease frequency in Australia, as population heterogeneity may confound the estimates obtained.


epidemiology; eye colour; iris; twins

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