Your Health Data, Our Principles: How To Feel Confident Sharing Your Health Data For Research


LunDNA was established by the public benefit corporation, LunaPBC with one powerful purpose — to put people at the center of health research.

By doing so, we ensure the fairness of value distribution amongst all research participants, the advancement of science and health discovery, and the acceleration of treatments and cures to diseases.

The first ever people-powered health data platform owned by its community of health data contributors now exists in today’s data-driven, high-tech world, but not without strict values and principles that power its mission.

Because we believe people are at the core of driving health discoveries, we have taken considerable measures to define the relationship between individuals contributing data, companies obtaining data, and researchers utilizing data.

The following four concepts are ones we encourage you to understand before sharing your personal data to research.

1. Transparency

Where is your data, who is using it, and how is it being used at all times?

Transparency is open, honest communication, which lends itself to accountability and responsibility to the individual from the company or researcher. It promotes a culture of authenticity, cooperation, and trust which is essential when sharing your most personal information.

Transparency can take many forms, from a company displaying concise, easy-to-understand policies, to regular company updates or newsletters. Transparency can also be as simple as resources on their site for an individual to find out additional information at their convenience.

Be sure to stay clear from companies who “sell” your data to third parties.

“Third parties” is a catch-all phrase for any other company not legally affiliated with the company with whom you shared your data. Once your data is sold, you lose control of your data.

2. Control

Who really owns your data once it’s been shared? Can you access or delete your data from any platform at any given time?

Contrary to popular belief, control of your personal data is not a luxury, but rather should be an essential part of your regular data transactions. When sharing your health data to research, control can be perceived as a string tied from one end (company) to the other end (you). The string can never be split or broken, as only one copy is on the platform. Your data is never duplicated nor does it ever leave the platform. Only you can quickly and easily access your data, delete some or all of your data, and provide consent as to when it is used for research.

Control over your data is the ease of accessibility to your data on any given platform, provided with clearly-written policies surrounding your decision to upload or delete your data, including how long each process takes.

Be cautious of companies that require you to submit written requests to delete your data, download processes that are not “push-button” on the company’s website, policies that contradict best practices, or any misleading information regarding the control of your data.

3. Privacy and Security

Is your identity protected from data breaches and is its security the utmost priority?

There’s no escaping the abundant news of data breaches, cyberattacks, and government surveillance that bombard our screens every day. It’s no wonder why it’s difficult to identify what companies are prioritizing the security of your most personal information.

In truth, most companies are conducting at least the minimum amount of safeguarding of your information, but very few make it a top priority.

A long-standing regulation in the United States, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) set national standards for protecting “individually identifiable health information by three types of covered entities”.

For simplicity sake, let’s break it down.

First, “individually identifiable information” is defined as pieces of information that could be used individually or in minimal combinations to re-identify you. This includes your name, your address, email address, birth date, personal phone numbers, fingerprints, and much more. To be “HIPAA compliant” a company must ensure this type of information is not accessible by anyone but the individual and authorized individuals, such as your doctor or caregiver. For instance, if you share a lab test result report for research, before it can be used for research, it must be stripped of your name, the date of the test, your address and other types of information that might be on the report that could identify you.

Second, “covered entities” is specifically defined to cover healthcare providers and other similar groups. It does not typically apply to companies performing research with your health data. The European Union (EU) has recently enacted farther reaching regulations on data privacy and security under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and is seen as fundamentally changing the way data is handled. Other countries are exploring similar regulations, and global companies are, in many cases, struggling to catch up to the new gold standard.

Meanwhile, companies are also focused on securing their technology platforms, whether that is a simple website or a much more extensive platform. Related buzzwords you may be familiar with include encryption, firewall, hash, private keys, etc.

Since security practices and cyberattack techniques are constantly evolving, companies need to prioritize security, ensuring they remain up-to-date with best practices and well-protected against any digital threats.

This doesn’t fully guarantee that a breach won’t happen, but extra precaution will dramatically reduce the likelihood. Often, companies aren’t able to share their security practices in detail, as that provides valuable information for a hacker to use, but there are other ways to understand the importance of security from a particular company.

Prioritized privacy and security will take the form of clear privacy and terms of use policies, two-factor authentication and other account security options, HIPAA compliance, GDPR compliance, security testing certifications, safeguards to prevent re-linking individually identifiable information to other data, and education for team members focused on privacy and security.

Look out for companies who have poorly described privacy policies, lack proper methods of authentication and account verification, and have ambiguous security statements, like “bank-level security”.

4. Shared Value

Who benefits from your data — you, the company, or the world?

Some companies today offer you certain services in return for your data, while most companies ask you to give or sell your data for research. Once your data is exchanged with these types of companies, you are no longer aware of its use, the purpose of its use, or any value gained from its use. Additionally, any health discovery that derives from the use of your data is rarely communicated to you.

The goal of any company driving health discovery should be to serve the greater good, including treating you fairly and ethically for your personal health data. Valuing those who made it possible to discover vital treatments and cures to conditions and diseases – to put simply – is the right thing to do.

Be cautious of monetary returns with uncertain value, including crypto or reward points, or no share valued offered where you are disintermediated from the income made from your health data.

Today we live our lives bouncing to and from the digital world and physical world. Understanding the rules of each environment, especially when it applies to your most personal and valuable information, is crucial in living a secure lifestyle. Educating yourself on your rights and the regulations of your health data can help hold companies accountable for their actions and allow you to feel confident in sharing your health data for research.

Luna is bringing together individuals, communities, and researchers to better understand life. The more we come together to contribute health data for the greater good, the quicker and more efficient research will scale, and improve the quality of life for us all.  

Directly drive health discovery by joining the Tell Us About You study. 


About Luna

Luna’s suite of tools and services connects communities with researchers to accelerate health discoveries. With participation from more than 180 countries and communities advancing causes including disease-specific, public health, environmental, and emerging interests, Luna empowers these collectives to gather a wide range of data — health records, lived experience, disease history, genomics, and more – for research.

Luna gives academia and industry everything they need from engagement with study participants to data analysis across multiple modalities using a common data model. The platform is compliant with clinical regulatory requirements and international consumer data privacy laws.

By providing privacy-protected individuals a way to continually engage, Luna transforms the traditional patient-disconnected database into a dynamic, longitudinal discovery environment where researchers, industry, and community leaders can leverage a range of tools to surface insights and trends, study disease natural history and biomarkers, and enroll in clinical studies and trials.


Is Lactose Intolerance Genetic

Is Lactose Intolerance Genetic? | How to Know If You’re Lactose Intolerant


Lactose intolerance has both genetic and non-genetic causes. Lactose intolerance can happen at any age. Learn the basics of lactose intolerance and how it could affect your health.

People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest sugars found in dairy products. There are many reasons people become lactose intolerant, and genetics may play a role.  According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, about 65 percent of the world population (or nearly 5 billion people) are lactose intolerant. In East Asia, the number is more than 90 percent.

Know Your Health: The Genetics of Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is the inability to eat dairy without having an adverse reaction. It occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough of an enzyme that aids in the digestion of sugars found in dairy. Learn about the different types of lactose intolerance, genetic disposition, how it is diagnosed, and how to manage it with this guide:

  • What is Lactose Intolerance?
    • Types of Lactose Intolerance
    • Lactose Intolerance Symptoms
    • Am I Lactose Intolerant?
  • What Causes Lactose Intolerance?
    • Is Lactose Intolerance Genetic?
    • Is Lactose Intolerance Inherited?
    • Can You Become Lactose Intolerant?
    • Lactose Intolerance Risk Factors
  • Lactose Intolerance Test — How It’s Diagnosed
    • Lactose Intolerance Management

What is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is the inability to fully digest sugars found in dairy products. Lactase is an enzyme produced in the small intestine that breaks down sugars in dairy products into the simple sugars glucose and galactose, which are absorbed into the bloodstream as fuel. Lactose-intolerant people do not generate enough lactase for the process to work.

With lactase in low production, the undigested lactose passes into the colon where it interacts with bacteria. This interaction causes the typical symptoms of lactose intolerance, which are bloating, gas, stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and sometimes vomiting.

Milk allergies, while similar, are less common and have symptoms with the potential to be far more severe with violent vomiting, bloody stools, and anaphylactic shock. Milk allergies often appear early in life, while lactose intolerance generally appears in adulthood.

Types of Lactose Intolerance

There are four distinct types of lactose intolerance. Two are genetically predisposed, one is often temporary, and the fourth is usually brought on by illness or injury.

  • Primary lactose intolerance is the most common type. Most people with primary lactose intolerance are genetically predisposed to significantly reduce lactase production between the ages of 2 and 5. As enzyme levels decrease, dairy becomes harder to digest and symptoms arise. Symptoms may not show until adulthood.
  • Secondary lactose intolerance is caused by an injury or illness. Any negative impact to the small intestine can cause less production of lactase. Diseases, such as Crohn’s and celiac, are commonly linked to this type of lactose intolerance. Surgery, medication, or chemotherapy can also hinder production of the enzyme. This type of lactose intolerance can be temporary or permanent.
  • Developmental lactose intolerance occurs in babies who are born prematurely. It usually resolves after the baby’s small intestines are fully developed.
  • Congenital lactose intolerance is the rarest type. It occurs when a baby is born with little to no lactase production in the small intestine. This genetic disorder can only be passed to a baby if both parents have the mutated gene.

Lactose Intolerance Symptoms

Symptoms and severity vary depending on the type of lactose intolerance and how much dairy was consumed. Typically, the following symptoms hit within a few hours of ingesting dairy:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach rumbling

Am I Lactose Intolerant?

People who experience any of the symptoms listed above after eating dairy may be lactose intolerant. Whether you have one of the symptoms or all of them, you should seek medical treatment or advice from a physician if you are uncomfortable or over-the-counter medications do not work.

What Causes Lactose Intolerance?

The most common type of lactose intolerance, primary lactose intolerance, is the result of an inherited genetic trait that runs in families. When a baby stops breastfeeding, the genetic response is to decrease the expression of the LCT gene, which provides instructions for making lactase in the small intestine. When lactase-producing cells line the walls of the small intestine, they help absorb nutrients as food passes through. Without this enzyme, lactose is broken down by bacteria inside the colon, which causes the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Is Lactose Intolerance Genetic?

The type of lactose intolerance a person suffers from determines whether genes play a role or not. For primary lactose intolerance, the most common form, genetics do play a role. Located within chromosome 2, the MCM6 gene helps control the activity or expression of the LCT gene.

The ability to tolerate lactose depends on the type of MCM6 variant a person has. The LCT gene follows the instructions provided by MCM6 and either produces adequate lactase to digest milk or not enough. For babies born with congenital lactose intolerance, the MCM6 gene is responsible to little or no lactase production at birth.

Can You Become Lactose Intolerant?

Lactose intolerance can be triggered by injury, illness, medication, or surgery. Any negative impact to the small intestine can trigger lactose intolerance. This type of lactose intolerance can be temporary or permanent. Primary lactose intolerance can set in later in life, usually once an individual reaches adulthood.

Lactose Intolerance Risk Factors

Lactose intolerance can happen at any time for a myriad of reasons. For example, taking antibiotics or having a bout of diarrhea can interfere with the small intestine’s ability to produce lactase. Below are the most common risk factors associated with having any of the four forms of lactose intolerance:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Injury
  • Surgery
  • Aging
  • Medication
  • Chemotherapy
  • Antibiotics
  • Diarrhea

Lactose Intolerance Test — How It’s Diagnosed

If you get the same symptoms after consuming dairy products, you should discuss the symptoms with your doctor. A doctor can administer a hydrogen breath test. Normally, hydrogen gas is barely detectable in the breath, but if you are lactose intolerant, you will have undigested dairy products fermenting in the colon, which produce hydrogen. The test takes about two to three hours and begins with drinking a lactose-heavy beverage. Afterwards, the patient’s breath is analyzed at regular intervals to determine the amount of hydrogen. Hydrogen is detectable at higher levels if someone is lactose intolerant.

Genetic tests are also available to analyze some forms of lactose intolerance. Additionally, a doctor can do more invasive procedures, such as an endoscopy, to view the inside of the intestines with a camera or take tissue samples from the inside of the gut.

Lactose Intolerance Management

While there is no cure for lactose intolerance, there are successful ways to manage the condition. The simplest way is to avoid dairy products that trigger bouts of discomfort. It’s still possible for some lactose-intolerant people to eat dairy products on occasion if a few rules are followed to avoid discomfort.

Eating small amounts of dairy products with other non-lactose foods can sometimes help you successfully deal with the side effects. The type of lactose-rich foods chosen can make a difference. Yogurt is generally easier to digest than milk. Supplements that help digest lactose are also available to take before eating dairy. Be sure to consult a doctor before adding any supplements to a diet.

Although great strides have been made in deciphering the genetics of lactose intolerance, more research needs to be done to better understand how to treat and manage the condition. As we understand more about the genetics of the human body, new research will lead to scientific breakthroughs to help people with lactose intolerance. You can directly contribute to health research with your unique health data, which enables the research needed to find treatments and cures to not only lactose intolerance, but other ailments as well.


About Luna

Luna’s suite of tools and services connects communities with researchers to accelerate health discoveries. With participation from more than 180 countries and communities advancing causes including disease-specific, public health, environmental, and emerging interests, Luna empowers these collectives to gather a wide range of data — health records, lived experience, disease history, genomics, and more – for research.

Luna gives academia and industry everything they need from engagement with study participants to data analysis across multiple modalities using a common data model. The platform is compliant with clinical regulatory requirements and international consumer data privacy laws.

By providing privacy-protected individuals a way to continually engage, Luna transforms the traditional patient-disconnected database into a dynamic, longitudinal discovery environment where researchers, industry, and community leaders can leverage a range of tools to surface insights and trends, study disease natural history and biomarkers, and enroll in clinical studies and trials.


What is Diabetes?

What is Diabetes? | Major Diabetes Risk Factors & Prevention


Is diabetes hereditary or acquired? What are the major risk factors of diabetes? Learn about diabetes, how to test for the disease, and prevention strategies.

If you’ve ever taken a home DNA kit, it’s likely that you were told it can measure the risk of developing a particular disease, like diabetes. But in fact, there’s only so much DNA kits can tell you about whether or not diabetes is in your present or future, as risks of such diseases come from many sources, not just genetic changes. Although valid studies are necessary to prove these tests provide accurate results, there’s one thing we do know for certain — your understanding of disease and overall health plays a vital role the quality of your life.

In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that diabetes and prediabetes affects more than 100 million U.S. adults. Although there is currently no cure for diabetes, there are treatments that can support people living with the disease.

Know Your Health: What Is Diabetes & Diabetes Risk Factors

Diabetes mellitus is more commonly known as diabetes and refers to the various groups of metabolic disorders, all of which affect how the body uses blood sugar, or glucose. There are multiple types of diabetes, but all involve excess sugar in the blood due to an abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. When too much sugar remains in the blood, it causes multiple health complications. There are several types of diabetes, and while they all have similarities, they are also very different in terms of nuances, risk factors, and treatment options. Learn more about diabetes, prevention, and treatment by reading this guide.

What is Diabetes?

When you have diabetes, your blood sugar, or blood glucose, is too high. Blood sugar is the primary source of energy that comes directly from the foods we eat. The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin, which helps glucose get into cells so it can be used for energy. When the body doesn’t make enough insulin, glucose can’t reach your cells so it builds up in your blood. The causes of diabetes vary by types but they all result in excess sugar in the blood, which can lead to serious health problems if not corrected.

What Are the Different Types of Diabetes?

While there are several types of diabetes, the three that are most common are Type 1, Type 2, and gestational. Other less common types include monogenic and cystic fibrosis-related diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body isn’t making insulin because your immune system is attacking and destroying the insulin-making cells in your pancreas. If you’re diagnosed with Type 1, you need to take insulin every day. While Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed at a younger age in children or young adults, it can onset at any age.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body makes insulin, but it doesn’t make or use it well. This is the most common type of diabetes. When you have Type 2 diabetes, cells develop a resistance to the action of insulin, and as a result, your pancreas can’t keep up insulin production to keep your blood glucose level in a healthy range. Similarly to Type 1, sugar can’t move into cells and instead builds up in the bloodstream.

Type 2 diabetes can be diagnosed at any age. However, it is most often diagnosed during middle or older age.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes can occur during pregnancy, but often will go away after giving birth. However, if you develop gestational diabetes while pregnant, you are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Monogenic Diabetes

Monogenic diabetes is a rare type of diabetes that is inherited and results from single gene mutations, as opposed to Types 1 and 2, which are caused by multiple genes. The gene mutations are often passed from parent to child, but they can occasionally occur spontaneously.

The two most common types of monogenic diabetes are neonatal and maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY).

What Causes Diabetes?

Diabetes is caused by various factors depending on the type you have. Yet, despite the different causes, there are two important factors in all diabetes diagnoses: an inherited predisposition to the disease and an environmental trigger.

Type 1 Diabetes — While the exact cause of Type 1 diabetes is unknown, it’s believed that a combination of environmental factors (like viruses) and genetic susceptibility come into play. What is known is that Type 1 occurs when your immune system attacks or destroys the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. Being overweight does not appear to be a factor in Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes — The most common of all types, Type 2 diabetes is caused by genes and lifestyle factors, among other things. Family history, weight or obesity, and physical inactivity are also significant contributing factors. Most often, Type 2 diabetes starts with insulin resistance, which occurs when your body doesn’t process insulin well. The pancreas tries to make more insulin, but eventually cannot meet demand. Once this happens, your blood glucose levels rise.

Gestational Diabetes — Gestational diabetes is caused by hormonal changes that women experience throughout their pregnancy. Sometimes, these changes make cells more resistant to insulin. The pancreas tries to produce more insulin but is unable to do so adequately, and glucose stays in the blood rather than going to cells. Genetics and lifestyle can also play a role in whether or not a woman will develop diabetes during pregnancy.

Is Diabetes Genetic?

The genetic component of diabetes is complicated. With Type 1 diabetes, most people inherit risk factors from both of their parents. For example:

  • A male with Type 1 diabetes has a 1 in 17 chance of his child developing the disease.
  • A woman with Type 1 who has a child before age 25 will have a 1 in 25 chance of having a child with diabetes.
  • A woman with Type 1 who has a child after age 25 will have a 1 in 100 chance of having a child with diabetes.
  • If you were diagnosed before 11 years of age, your future child’s risk is doubled.
  • If both you and your partner have Type 1 diabetes, your children will have between a 1 in 10 and 1 in 4 chance of developing the disease.

If you have Type 1 and are Caucasian, it is likely you have a gene called HLA-DR3 or HLA-DR4, and if you share these genes with your child, he or she is at greater risk. Research done for other ethnicity groups has had similar findings, but are not as well-studied. The HLA-DR7 and HLA-DR9 genes may put African Americans and Japanese, respectively, at greater risk. Current research is aimed at predicting and understanding the odds of a child developing diabetes in relation to race, gender, and other factors.

Type 2 diabetes has a stronger link to family history but environmental factors play more of a role in this type. Twin studies have shown a strong connection in the development of Type 2 but environmental factors, such as obesity and exercise habits, also tend to run in families. If you have Type 2 diabetes, most likely it is due to both lifestyle and genetic factors. However, studies show that by exercising and losing weight, you can delay or prevent onset of Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Risk Factors

While we’ve examined how some risk factors might be inherited, other risks can be avoided with the right care and precautionary measures taken. Some of the top risk factors to note include, in no order of importance:

  • Inactivity
  • Weight
  • Poor diet
  • Age
  • Family history
  • Race
  • High blood pressure
  • Previous history of gestational diabetes

How to Prevent Diabetes

While Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, there are multiple approaches that can be taken to reduce your risk of developing Type 2, with healthy lifestyle choices at the top of the list.

Eating healthy foods that are high in fiber and low in fat and calories is important. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are great snack choices. In addition to a healthy diet, being sure to get plenty of physical exercise and losing weight are both critical if you are high risk. Just 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week, of moderate activity like a brisk walk, bike ride, or swim can make a huge difference in reducing your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Diagnosis — How to Test for Diabetes

Multiple tests are used by a doctor to make a diagnosis of diabetes. A glycated hemoglobin, or A1C test, can indicate average blood sugar levels from the past several months. The A1C is a blood test that measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, which is the protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells. A1C results can indicate the following:

  • 6.5 percent or higher — indication of diabetes; must be in this range on two separate test results
  • 5.7-6.4 percent — indication of prediabetes
  • 5.6 percent or lower — considered normal; no indication of diabetes

Other tests include a random blood sugar test that doesn’t account for last meals (meaning, no fasting is necessary) or a fasting blood sugar test that’s administered after an overnight fast. Another test administered is an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), in which you fast overnight and your baseline blood sugar level is recorded in the morning, and again two hours after you ingest a sugary drink. The OGTT helps your doctor determine how your body processes sugar.

If a doctor suspects Type 1 diabetes, a urine test will be able to detect any presence of ketones, a byproduct that’s produced when fat breaks down. Another test that is used looks for destructive immune system cells called autoantibodies.

Common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Excessive and increased thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Extreme hunger, particularly after eating
  • Unexplained weight loss despite regular eating
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue or feeling weak
  • Blurred vision
  • Irritability
  • Sores that won’t heal or are slow-healing
  • Gum or skin infections

What is the Treatment for Diabetes?

Managing a diabetes diagnosis is different depending on the type of diabetes you have. But in all cases, diet and exercise are important.

Monitoring blood sugar, carbohydrate counting, and taking insulin and oral medications may all play a role in treatment. All people with Type 1 diabetes and many people with Type 2 diabetes require insulin injections or an insulin pump. Although some people with Type 2 diabetes manage their condition through diet and exercise alone, many patients need diabetes medications as well.

For women diagnosed with gestational diabetes, keeping blood sugar levels under control is imperative to keeping the baby healthy and avoiding complications during delivery. Treatment during pregnancy might include monitoring blood sugar levels and possibly using oral medications or insulin. In most cases, gestational diabetes will resolve after a woman gives birth; however, the risk of developing Type 2 later in life increases after a gestational diabetes diagnosis. Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes should be screened for diabetes at least every three years after their blood sugar levels return to normal.

Diabetes, while not yet a curable disease, is treatable. And with over 2,000 clinical trials investigating new interventions, there are many possibilities on the horizon. While medication and lifestyle can play a significant role in treatment, continued genetic research and advancements in precision, or personalized, medicine offer amazing hope for those living with diabetes.

How To Get Involved In Diabetes Research

In December 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved LunaDNATM to offer shares of ownership in the organization in return for health data. This made LunaDNA the first community-owned health and DNA data platform to exist. Our goal is to build a rich and robust health discovery platform dedicated to supporting research, advancing science, and accelerating medical breakthroughs.

Now, for the first time, people affected by diabetes can contribute their health data to LunaDNA’s secure platform. By uploading a personal DNA data file or even just taking a health survey, you can directly contribute to health research. The more people who come together to contribute health data for the greater good, the quicker and more efficiently research will scale, improving the quality of life for us all.

Luna is bringing together individuals, communities, and researchers to better understand life. The more we come together to contribute health data for the greater good, the quicker and more efficient research will scale, and improve the quality of life for us all.  

Directly drive health discovery by joining the Tell Us About You study. 


About Luna

Luna’s suite of tools and services connects communities with researchers to accelerate health discoveries. With participation from more than 180 countries and communities advancing causes including disease-specific, public health, environmental, and emerging interests, Luna empowers these collectives to gather a wide range of data — health records, lived experience, disease history, genomics, and more – for research.

Luna gives academia and industry everything they need from engagement with study participants to data analysis across multiple modalities using a common data model. The platform is compliant with clinical regulatory requirements and international consumer data privacy laws.

By providing privacy-protected individuals a way to continually engage, Luna transforms the traditional patient-disconnected database into a dynamic, longitudinal discovery environment where researchers, industry, and community leaders can leverage a range of tools to surface insights and trends, study disease natural history and biomarkers, and enroll in clinical studies and trials.


Is Eye Color Genetic?

Is Eye Color Genetic? | What Your Eye Color Has to Do With Your History


Eye colors are passed down through generations, but sometimes genetic variations can lead to surprising results in eye colors. Learn about the genetics of eye color in this guide.

Whether eyes are blue or brown, eye color is determined by genetic traits handed down to children from their parents. A parent’s genetic makeup determines the amount of pigment, or melanin, in the iris of the his or her child’s eye. With high levels of brown melanin, the eyes look brown. With minimal levels of the same brown melanin, the eyes look blue. However, a genetic variation can cause a child’s eye color to be unpredictable, resulting in two blue-eyed parents having a brown-eyed child.

Know Your Health: Genetics of Eye Color

Eye colors have evolved over time and have roots in our ancestry. Although eye color is determined by genetic makeup, variations can cause different shades to appear. Learn more about the genetics of eye color, including:

How Is Eye Color Determined?

Genetic makeup determines the amount of melanin in the eye. In eye color, there isn’t blue or green pigment. All eye colors have the same brown melanin incapable of refracting light. The difference in eye colors is due to the concentration and location of the brown melanin on the two layers of the iris. People with brown eyes have melanin on the back layer of the iris and some on the front layer, which absorbs more light and causes the iris to look brown. Eyes with no melanin on the front layer of the iris scatter light so that more blue light reflects out, so that the eyes appear blue.

The chromosomes a child inherits carry genetic information that determines eye color. Differences in the copies received from each parent causes variations in the amount of melanin produced. A region on chromosome 15 has a big part in determining eye color. The OCA2 and HERC2 genes are located in this region.

The OCA2 gene (formerly called the P gene) provides instructions for producing the P protein located in the melanocytes (specialized cells that produce melanin). If more protein is produced, then the eyes received more melanin, and eye color leans toward the brown end of the color spectrum. When less protein is produced, the eyes receive less melanin and eye color leans toward the blue end of the spectrum. Although nearly 75 percent of eye color is controlled by the OCA2 gene, other genes provide a pathway for melanin. These genes can raise or lower melanin levels, causing a child to have more or less melanin than either parent. These variations can result in blue-eyed parents having a brown-eyed child, or brown-eyed parents having a blue-eyed child. The former is more likely than the latter.

Is Eye Color Genetic?

Each cell in the human body normally contains 23 pairs of chromosomes. Chromosome 15 likely contains 600 to 700 genes integral to producing proteins. Two of these genes, OCA2 and HERC2, play a significant role in eye color selection.

Although the OCA2 gene produces the protein responsible for melanin, the HERC2 gene controls the OCA2 gene by turning its protein production on and off. The presence of at least one genetic variation in the HERC2 gene can reduce the amount of melanin produced, leading to lighter eyes. Other genes working with OCA2 and HERC2 have a smaller role, but on rare occasions override OCA2 to determine eye color.

Is Eye Color Inherited?

Eye color was once thought to be the result of a single hereditary trait. It was thought that each person received one eye color gene from each parent, and the dominant gene determined eye color. In this model, the brown-eye color gene was always dominant over the blue-eye color gene, and only two blue-eye color genes could color eyes blue.

Charles and Gertrude Davenport developed the dominant brown eye model in 1907. They suggested that blue eyes were caused by a single recessive gene, and blue-eyed parents could never produce a brown-eyed child. Dominant and recessive genes refer to inheritance patterns, and describe how likely it is for a certain trait to pass from parent to offspring.

Today, we know this model is simplistic, and that many genes determine that eye color. Although we can predict the color of a child’s eyes based on the parent’s eye colors, other genetic factors may alter the outcome.

Can Eye Color Be Predicted?

While it is possible to predict the probability of eye color, genetic factors may alter the outcome. Movie star Elizabeth Taylor’s parents probably did not predict their daughter’s rare violet eyes. Taylor’s eye color is thought to be the result of a genetic mutation in the FOXC2 gene, which causes a specific amount of melanin that produced a striking eye color and may cause double eye lashes as well as heart problems.

With eye color controlled by more than one gene, it is possible for a newborn to inherit any eye color. Predicting eye color is further complicated because it sometimes changes after birth. A baby’s blue eyes can turn brown as more melanin is deposited into the iris over the first three years of life.

What Does Your Eye Color Mean?

According to one theory, almost everyone (99.5 percent) with blue eyes might be able to trace their ancestry back to the same blue-eyed ancestor that lived in the northwest part of the Black Sea region some 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. This is based on the DNA analysis of about 800 blue-eyed people, in which only one person did not have the same blue-eye genetic mutation as the rest of the group. This mutation seems to have occurred during the Neolithic period (or New Stone Age) during the great agricultural migration to the northern part of Europe. Nearly all blue-eyed humans have this same mutation in the same location in their DNA. By contrast, brown-eyed humans have more variation in their DNA when it comes to eye color.

Brown Eyes

The majority of people in the world have brown eyes. The color brown is a result of a high concentration of melanin in the iris causing more light to be absorbed and less light to be reflected. Because of this, brown eyes are more naturally protected from the sun. This likely had evolutionary benefits similar to darker skin being able to withstand the hot sun longer. The genes responsible for skin color are closely linked to those that cause eye color.

Though brown eyes are the most common genetic eye color, there is more genetic variation among those with brown eyes than those with blue eyes. This may account for the variations of brown eye colors. These variations come from different genes on different chromosomes that carry genetic eye color information from our ancestors.

Blue Eyes

Originally, all humans had brown eyes. Some 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, a genetic mutation affecting one gene turned off the ability to produce enough melanin to color eyes brown causing blue eyes. This mutation arose in the OCA2 gene, the main gene responsible for determining eye color. Since blue eyes have survived throughout many generations, researchers think there may have been some evolutionary benefit, though the exact reason is unknown.

Blue eyes are the result of low concentrations of brown melanin, not blue pigmentation. Less melanin allows more light to reflect back to wavelengths on the blue color spectrum, which in turn make eyes appear blue. The reason why eyes are blue is the same reason the sky is blue. Some 8 to 10 percent of humans worldwide have blue eyes.

Green Eyes

Only about 2 percent of the world’s population has green eyes. Green eyes are a genetic mutation that produces low levels of melanin, but more than blue eyes. As in blue eyes, there is no green pigment. Instead, because of the lack of melanin in the iris, more light scatters out, which make the eyes appear green. Changes in light make lighter eyes look like they are changing colors like a chameleon.

Hazel Eyes

Hazel eyes are sometimes mistaken for green or brown eyes. They are not as rare as green eyes, but are rarer than blue eyes. Only about 5 percent of the population worldwide has the hazel eye genetic mutation. After brown eyes, they have the most melanin. . The combination of having less melanin (as with green eyes) and a lot of melanin (like brown eyes) make this eye color unique.

The color combinations in shades of green, brown, and gold are endless with hazel eyes, depending on the concentration of melanin. The light scatters as it does with blue and green eyes.  As with blue and green eyes, hazel eyes may appear to shift colors depending on the light. The eye color doesn’t actually shift, perception does. It is unknown if hazel eyes developed from brown eyes or green.

How does your eye health impact your life?

Your eye health may significantly impact your everyday life, from socializing with friends to driving at night. Share your eye health experiences to help scientists better understand your eyes’ impact on your daily life. Get started here.


About Luna

Luna’s suite of tools and services connects communities with researchers to accelerate health discoveries. With participation from more than 180 countries and communities advancing causes including disease-specific, public health, environmental, and emerging interests, Luna empowers these collectives to gather a wide range of data — health records, lived experience, disease history, genomics, and more – for research.

Luna gives academia and industry everything they need from engagement with study participants to data analysis across multiple modalities using a common data model. The platform is compliant with clinical regulatory requirements and international consumer data privacy laws.

By providing privacy-protected individuals a way to continually engage, Luna transforms the traditional patient-disconnected database into a dynamic, longitudinal discovery environment where researchers, industry, and community leaders can leverage a range of tools to surface insights and trends, study disease natural history and biomarkers, and enroll in clinical studies and trials.


LunaDNA Partners with Genomelink

LunaDNA Partners with GenomeLink to Offer Members Even More


We’re excited to announce our strategic partnership with Genomelink, the largest and fastest growing web platform that enables members to upload their raw DNA data file and discover more about their DNA identities and traits through intuitive visualization and scientific educational content.

Now, LunaDNA members can contribute their DNA data to Genomelink and learn more about their unique health data, from personality traits, fitness and nutrition, and more.

This partnership allows LunaPBC, manager of LunaDNA, to unite our shared mission with Awakens, creator of Genomelink, and close the gap between individual and researcher by positioning individuals at the center of health discovery. Together, we’re supporting health research, advancing science and accelerating medical breakthroughs.

We are excited to see organizations like Awakens recognizing that modern data stewardship means individuals must come first. People coming together at scale as a data sharing community represents the next frontier in making research more efficient, inclusive, and informative, but it requires earning people’s trust through transparency, reciprocity, and honoring their control at all times.”

Dawn Barry, President + Co-founder at LunaPBC

As LunaDNA’s platform evolves, LunaDNA members will have the ability to earn additional shares by importing their weekly trait data from GenomeLink onto the LunaDNA platform. For now, Awakens invites Genomelink members to participate in the new wave of people-powered health by becoming a pioneering member of LunaDNA and joining a health movement that’s reshaping the traditional health research model.

Awakens believes personal DNA engagement should be a life-long journey for individuals and their families because the knowledge embedded in our DNA is continuously being discovered.”

Tomohiro Takano, CEO + Co-founder at Awakens

This partnership comes just 15 years after DNA Day was officially declared a national holiday, commemorating the day James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and colleagues published papers in the journal Nature on the structure of DNA back in 1953. Furthermore, we recognize April 25th as the day when the Human Genome Project was near-completion, with the remaining gaps considered “too costly” to fill. It’s an eventful day in DNA history and we’re thrilled to be celebrating it improving quality of life for all.


About Luna

Luna’s suite of tools and services connects communities with researchers to accelerate health discoveries. With participation from more than 180 countries and communities advancing causes including disease-specific, public health, environmental, and emerging interests, Luna empowers these collectives to gather a wide range of data — health records, lived experience, disease history, genomics, and more – for research.

Luna gives academia and industry everything they need from engagement with study participants to data analysis across multiple modalities using a common data model. The platform is compliant with clinical regulatory requirements and international consumer data privacy laws.

By providing privacy-protected individuals a way to continually engage, Luna transforms the traditional patient-disconnected database into a dynamic, longitudinal discovery environment where researchers, industry, and community leaders can leverage a range of tools to surface insights and trends, study disease natural history and biomarkers, and enroll in clinical studies and trials.