You learn something new every day, and inquisitive minds on TikTok have discovered that the color of their irises can look different under certain angles, which they have dubbed the “side eye challenge.”
The trending hashtag has racked up more than 2.4 million views from fellow TikTokers. Countless users have uploaded close-up videos showing their eyes seemingly changing color from a front and side view.
To take part in the trend, TikTokers set their videos to the tune “After Dark” by Mr. Kitty and say what they think their side eye color looks like.
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So far, TikTok user mads.yuhhh has received the most likes with the #sideeyechallenge video she shared on Sunday, which has earned more than 44,800 likes and 1,080 comments.
“Saw a girl saying her side eye color was sage green…” mads.yuhhh captioned her clip. “Mines creme?”
Commenters under her post went on to describe the color changes they observed from their own side eye challenges.
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TikTok user Shayla Brooke Boothe has the second most-liked side eye challenge video with more than 34,300 likes, according to the app’s algorithm.
“Apparently eyes are a different color from the side,” Boothe captioned her video. “Grey with amber tones?”
She went on to write under her post that she wants to test what her side eye color looks like in the sun.
Medical science has a reasonable explanation on why eye colors seem to change when viewed from an angle, and it all has to do with lighting.
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“The angle we observe an object from can change the apparent color of an object,” a 2005 Q&A report from University of Santa Barbara and National Science Foundation explained.
“Take a glossy photograph or magazine picture and look at it from various angles. The picture doesn’t change, but the way we see it does. So does the light source. Look at the ocean on different days and from different angles (on the beach, from the pier, from the hills) and you will see a similar effect,” the report reads. “When different amounts and types of light (fluorescent, sunlight, etc.) hit your eyes from different angles, or we look at your eyes from different angles, they will seem to be different colors.”
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Moreover, researchers at UCSB explained that lighter eye colors offer “increased reflectance” that makes it look like it changes hues under different angles and lighting. Seeing a change in darker eye colors can be harder to perceive due to heavy pigmentation.
Verified TikTok creator muslimthicc showed an example of this with her side eye challenge video, which earned more than 17,900 likes since Thursday.
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“Trying to see what color my eyes are from the side,” she wrote in her video. “This trend doesn’t work on brown eyed girls they’re [sic] just brown.”
Meanwhile, a report from the Fort Lauderdale Eye Institute suggests that the iris of an eye can marginally change color when a pupil changes size.
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“The iris is the part of the eye that carries the color. It is a muscle that expands and contracts to control the size of the pupil. The pupil gets bigger in low light and smaller in bright light. It also changes shape based on what you are doing, shrinking when you are doing close up things such as reading,” the report reads. “The cool thing is that when the pupil changes size, the pigments in the iris compress or spread apart. This changes the eye color to a degree.”