This is something I’ve been wondering about for some time now. I’ve noticed that some people have dark rings around the outside of their eyes’ irises, between the iris and the white. It’s like a dark, bottomless pool of pure color. Other people don’t have it. Their irises slam right up into the white.

Last month, Notional Geographic magazine celebrated their 125th anniversary with a special photo issue. On the cover is their iconic and haunting photo of a young Afghan girl. I’m sure you’ve seen it:

afghan-girl cropped

Her sea-green eyes are the most striking I think I’ve ever seen. And she has those dark rings, too. I kept seeing the photo and wondering about those rings.

So I Googled it. They’re called “limbal rings,” and psychologists say they are an unconscious measure of attractiveness. They make the eyes “pop” and make the whites look whiter. Thick, dark limbal rings are also a measure of general physical health, as they fade with age and disease. Contact lens makers have long been making colored lenses that enhance the limbal ring:

My eyes are hazel, green on the outside and brown on the inside. The dark limbal ring is a deep green color.

green eye

Limbal rings – I haz ’em.

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