The colour of your eyes is more than just a trait you inherit from your parents; it may also predict certain health issues. According to the American Journal of Ophthalmology your eye colour may predispose you to certain eye health issues and diseases. As outlined on the Breast Cancer Site and Prevention Magazine, knowing what eye health issues and other diseases you are at risk for may help you prevent them. Read on to learn more about your eye colour and your health.
Dark Eye Health Issues
People with brown eyes may be celebrated by Van Morrison who sang about his brown eyed girl, but having this hue may increase your risk of the following:
- Cataracts – People with dark eyes have a 1.5 to 2.5 times greater risk of developing cataracts later in life based on a study from the American Journal of Ophthalmology.
- Vitiligo – A 2012 review of vitiligo research published in Nature, found that the autoimmune disease, which causes pigment loss appearing on the skin as blotches, is less common in light eyed people, blue eyed people in particular. The researchers discovered that variations in two particular genes, TYR and OCA2, which play a role in blue eye color, also decrease risk for vitiligo. Of the participants involved in the study of vitiligo patients, 27% had blue eyes, 30% had green or hazel eyes, and 43% had brown eyes.
- Alcohol Sensitivity – If your eyes are black or brown you may not be the life of the party as they are found to have a lower tolerance to drugs and alcohol. Generally, people with this eye colour group indulge less often-whether it’s because they have a lower tolerance and choose not to for that reason or if they have a lower tolerance because they don’t drink as much isn’t clear.
- Pain Sensitivity – According to a study by the American Pain Society women with light eyes may have a higher tolerance for pain and discomfort. Women giving birth were studied, and those with darker eyes exhibited more anxiety and sleep disturbances in response to pain and had greater pain reduction with an epidural. This suggests more sensitivity to pain according to MedPage Today.
How to Keep Dark Eyes Healthy
- Protect your Peepers from the Sun – Everyone should wear proper eye protection to help prevent cataracts and damage from UV rays, and dark-eyed people need to be extra vigilant. Make sure if your eyes are dark that your sunglasses provide UVA and UVB protection and consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Drink in Moderation – For good health this is a rule every eye colour should follow but since this particular group seems to have a higher sensitivity to drugs and alcohol it may mean your body has trouble processing it.
- Control Stress – Being sensitive to pain can increase the output of the stress hormone, cortisol. To decrease pain and cortisol consider practising yoga, meditation and light forms of exercise.
Eye Health Issues to Watch out for if your Eyes are Light
- Melanoma – The same variations in blue eyes that protect against developing vitiligo seem to increase the risk of melanoma a serious form of skin cancer.
- Macular Degeneration – One of the most common causes of vision loss after the age of 50 is age-related macular degeneration. AMD results in blurred sight and can progress to spots that appear blank. Having light eyes may double your risk for AMD according to certain studies.
- Eye Diseases – Eye diseases tend to occur more in people with light eyes according to a German study. If your eyes are light make sure you have routine eye exams.
How to keep Light Eyes Healthy
- Avoid Smoking – To prevent melanoma and macular degeneration you shouldn’t smoke. Smoking increases the risk of both of these conditions.
- Wear UV Eye Protection – UVB and UVA is not only responsible for cataracts (more common in brown eyed folks) but can contribute to melanoma and macular degeneration. Protect yourself when you’re out in the sun.
- Have Regular Eye Exams – Since people with light eyes have increased risk of macular degeneration, melanoma and other eye diseases, regular eye exams are a must.
Did you Know?
A change in eye color could be an indication that something’s wrong.
If the whites of your eyes are red, you probably have undiagnosed allergies, but it may also indicate dry eye a condition which irritates the eye. If you’re unsure what’s causing the irritation make an appointment for an eye exam if the problem is ongoing. If the whites of your eyes turn yellow that can indicate liver problems and you should go to your doctor and have a blood test to test your liver function. Other changes in eye colour can be caused by glaucoma medication. It may also indicate serious conditions such as: Wilson’s Disease, Neurofibromatosis, Waardenburg syndrome, or melanoma of the iris. If your eyes have always been two different colors, it’s probably nothing to worry about but if you notice a recent change make sure you book a comprehensive eye exam to rule out any significant issues.
No matter what your eye colour it makes sense to: protect yourself from the sun, drink in moderation, and practise healthy lifestyle habits and stress reduction in order to prevent eye health conditions and disease.