Dark Rings Around the Iris

Prominent limbal rings enhance the beauty of the eye
Prominent limbal rings enhance the beauty of the eye | Source

Limbal Rings

Dark circles or rings around the coloured iris of the eyes are known as limbal rings and of late, there has been a real fashion for them.

Considered a desirable feature, they highlight eye colour, make the whites look whiter and add drama to the general ambiance of the eye.

A 2011 article in Evolutionary Psychology [see link below] noted the results of a study which revealed that people are generally more attracted to those with defined limbal rings than those without; a finding that proved to be true for both men and women.

So what causes these magical rings and how do you get them if you haven't been blessed with them by nature? Are they just something else to get insecure about?

Contact lenses for enhancing the limbal rings
Contact lenses for enhancing the limbal rings | Source
The corneal limbus is a border, separating the cornea from the sclera [whites of the eye]
The corneal limbus is a border, separating the cornea from the sclera [whites of the eye]

Eye Rings a Sign of Youth and Health

Limbal rings are an optical property of the eye and appear as a dark border separating the iris from the whites of the eye. The width and prominence of the rings are affected by iris pigmentation, age and individual eye structure.

Most of us are born with limbal rings but over time they tend to thin out with age, medical conditions and the general vicissitudes of living. The younger you are, the stronger your limbal ring is likely to be.

Of course, genetics plays a part and some people have naturally more defined rings that last well into adulthood, while in others the rings are barely perceptible. In general however, limbal rings begin to decline in our late 20s, disappearing altogether in advanced age.They also tend to be more prominent in lighter coloured eyes than very dark eyes, although even dark brown eyes may have limbic rings, that while not so noticeable, still subtly enhance attractiveness. More unusually, some darker-eyed people may have blue limbal rings around their brown eyes. Genetically, eye colour is quite complex and involves a mixture of colours, which sometimes appear to change their hues, depending on light relfection.

According to researchers, our attraction to limbal rings in the eyes of others is completely unconscious. In evolutionary terms, we are wired to find youth and vitality appealing for reproductive purposes, so any physical markers that denote these qualities give those who possess them the edge in terms of overall attractiveness.

Limbal rings are often very prominent in infants
Limbal rings are often very prominent in infants | Source
The right contact lenses can create a living doll
The right contact lenses can create a living doll | Source

Dark Circle Contact Lenses

For those of us deficient in the natural limbal ring area, if desired, there are dark circle contact lenses available to correct the deficit. "Circle lenses" can be used to widen the eye and provide a prominent border between the iris and the whites - these are purely a beauty enhancer or fashion statement and not a medical corrector for vision.

Circle lenses have been popular in Asia, particularly Japan, for many years, for creating different effects, such as bigger eyes or in some cases, to add a doll-like appearance to the face, Depending on the size and colour of the lenses, circles can be as dramatic or as subtle as you wish.

There is even a company offering a permanent limbal ring silicone implantation but I was unable to find any independent information about the safety or even legitimacy of the procedure.

Defining Eyes

If limbal rings are lacking in your own eyes and you don't wish to wear contact lenses, there are still effective ways to give drama to the eye and enhance contrast. The ancient Egyptians knew that defining the eye with dark eye-liner was one way to make them pop.

Kohl pencil, coloured eyeliner and the right eye-shadows, both light and dark, add striking effects and can do wonders in framing the eye and creating the illusion of contrast. You can also use drops to enhance colour and clear the whites.

In this beauty worshipping, shallow world, most of us do what we can to be as attractive as possible and worry if we're perceived to be lacking in some way [see video below]. However, if your limbal rings aren't up to scratch, don't beat yourself up over it. There plenty of other things which make you attractive, including personality, that can override something as trivial as a circle around your iris.

Dark limbal rings can make light eye colours really jump out
Dark limbal rings can make light eye colours really jump out
Eye of Ra
Eye of Ra

More by this Author

  • Fashions for Tall Women

    Let's start with the shoes. It's all very well for Nicole Kidman to swan about in her limited edition, three inch heeled Salvatore Ferragamo's but not all of us have the funds to acquire such beauties nor the beauty to...

  • John Lennon Glasses

    The cool and groovy skinny wire-framed, round 'granny glasses' that John Lennon first appeared in the 1960's are a classic design and of course, predate Lennon. The circle style goes right back to the earliest glasses...

  • Top Models of the 1960s

    The 1960's were an explosive time, musically, culturally and particularly fashion-wise

Click to Rate This Article