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I read this book in the mid-nineties, probably written in the 80s or 90s. It’s set in the near future, where the world has experienced a sudden glaciation. Most of the United States and Europe is now covered with ice. Civilization has collapsed for the most part.

The protagonist is a drifter with strange-colored eyes (yellow, I think). Because of his weird eyes, he’s never really fit in anywhere. He moves from place to place just trying to survive, but somehow he discovers that the new ice-age did not occur naturally. It was engineered by extraterrestrials, to make their work easier. They’re looking for the plans for a super-weapon - a weapon that can cause any star to go nova. A rival group of aliens hid the plans for this weapon by encoding the information in the human genome millions of years ago. The marker to identify humans who carry this gene is - you guessed it - yellow-colored eyes.

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As per Seeking Sci-Fi story/novel with hiddenDNA code, alien-caused ice age, read in 1980's, this is probably The Chromosomal Code by Lawrence Watt-Evans.

A sudden ice age has driven Earth's population into the tropics, except for a few die-hards eking out a tenuous existence scavenging the snow-covered ruins of civilization. One such straggler is John Starkman, making his home in the frozen wastes of western Pennsylvania. Already an outcast because of a certain physical peculiarity, he saw no reason to join his neighbors in fleeing south. Then one day a spaceship comes to collect him and the other stragglers, and Starkman discovers there have been other changes besides the ice age. Aliens have landed on Earth. They say they've come to help -- but what do they really want? And why are they interested in him? A science fiction novel by Hugo-winner Lawrence Watt-Evans, back in print for the first time in over twenty years.

....

I was fascinated to learn that there was apparently such a thing as "junk" DNA, and immediately began thinking about how one might use it in a science fiction story.

To me, using it to hide messages seemed the obvious choice -- but what message, and who hid it?

FWIW, found via a search for novel "ice age" "yellow eyes"

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  • Was about to post this as an answer too :) +1, this is almost certainly the book that OP is looking for. – Alith Aug 19 at 15:12

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