IrisPlex system represents the most popular model for eye colour prediction. Based on six polymorphisms this model provides very accurate predictions that strongly depend on the definition of eye colour phenotypes. The aim of the present study was to introduce a new approach to improve eye colour prediction using the well-validated IrisPlex system. A sample of 238 individuals from a Southern Italian population was collected and for each of them a high-resolution image of eye was obtained. By quantifying eye colour variation into CIELAB space several clustering algorithms were applied for eye colour classification. Predictions with the IrisPlex model were obtained using eye colour categories defined by both visual inspection and clustering algorithms. IrisPlex system predicted blue and brown eye colour with high accuracy while it was inefficient in the prediction of intermediate eye colour. Clustering-based eye colour resulted in a significantly increased accuracy of the model especially for brown eyes. Our results confirm the validity of the IrisPlex system for forensic purposes. Although the quantitative approach here proposed for eye colour definition slightly improves its prediction accuracy, further research is still required to improve the model particularly for the intermediate eye colour prediction.
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