Eye Health: What Eye Color and Shape Say About Your Health

Eye Cancer

Uveal melanoma is more common in those who have blue, green, or gray eyes.

Got blue, green, or gray eyes? You're more likely than your brown-eyed friends to get a specific cancer of the eye called uveal melanoma. Your chances are still low, though -- only 2,500 people in the U.S. get it each year.

Trustworthiness

People who have brown eyes are deemed more trustworthy than others.

Researchers found that people tend to rank brown-eyed faces more trustworthy than others. But the study went on to say that facial features common to folks with brown eyes were more likely to give people feelings of trust.

Blood Sugar Issues

People who have blue eyes and fair skin are at increased risk of type 1 diabetes.

A 2011 European study suggests that a combo of blue eyes and fair skin puts you at a higher risk of getting type 1 diabetes.

Hearing Loss

People who have brown eyes have more melanin that protects their hearing.

Studies show that in a loud environment, brown-eyed people have less hearing loss than people whose eyes have a blue hue. It's believed to be because brown-eyed folks have more melanin (the pigment that gives your skin, hair, and eyes their color) in their eyes and ears. That gives them a bit more protection when noise levels go up.

Drink Dependence

People who have blue eyes are more likely to have a drinking problem.

Not only are you more likely to drink alcohol if your eyes are blue, you're also at a higher risk of becoming addicted to it, according to a 2015 study.

Endometriosis

Women who have blue eyes are more likely to suffer from endometriosis than those who have eyes of another color.

This is when tissue that normally grows inside your uterus grows outside of it. When it invades organs like the bladder and bowel, it's called deep infiltrating endometriosis (DIE). Women who have DIE have blue eyes more than any other color. Experts think the genes that control eye color may link to the ones that cause DIE.

Response to Therapy

The type of therapy that works best for you depends in part on your eye color.

Your eye color can play a role in what type of behavior therapy works best for you. Dark eyes can mean you'll have better results in treatment that's more rigid. Meanwhile, light-eyed folks are more likely to respond to a program that changes as they do, at their pace.

Different Dilations

Mismatched pupil size may be a sign of a health problem.

One out of 5 people has naturally different-sized pupils -- one smaller than the other. But sometimes, mismatched pupils can be a sign of a health issue, like a nervous-system problem, stroke, or infection.

Vitiligo

People who have brown eyes are more likely to suffer from vitiligo.

If you have blue eyes, you're less likely to have this condition that makes you lose skin color in blotches. Experts think it could be because some of the genes that help make eyes blue also lower your risk of getting the condition.

Cataracts

Cataracts are more likely in people who have brown eyes.

This vision-clouding condition is more likely to hit you if you have dark brown eyes, one Australian study says. Researchers believe that shade makes cataracts twice as likely.

Star Pupils

Larger pupil size is considered a sign of intelligence.

Studies are ongoing, but experts think that resting pupil size could be a sign of intelligence. Larger pupils tend to connect to a brain that works well.

Multicolored Eyes

Multicolored eyes may be a sign of a genetic disorder that affects more than just the eyes.

Do you have a blue patch in your mostly brown eyes? It could be a symptom of Waardenburg syndrome. That genetic disorder can make you lose pigment in your hair, skin, and eyes. It can also cause deafness and unique facial features, like wide-set eyes and a wide nose bridge.

Sports Skills

Eye color has some effect on an individual's sports skills.

In movements done as a reaction -- boxing, hitting a ball, football defense -- those with brown eyes are more likely to shine. But if the action is one you control from start to finish, like bowling, golfing, or pitching a baseball, you've got a leg up if your eyes are blue.

Pain Tolerance

Women who have dark-colored eyes may feel more labor pain than those who have eyes of a different color.

Studying women in labor helped scientists learn what eye color may say about how much pain you can take. Their theory: Women with dark-colored eyes tended to show more distress during labor. They woke from pain more often, felt more pain at rest and when they moved, and were more likely to be depressed because of their pain.

Macular Degeneration

Having light-colored eyes is a risk factor for macular degeneration.

An Australian study says people with light-colored eyes are twice as likely to get age-related macular degeneration. This disease can cause vision loss.

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REFERENCES:

  • Scientific Reports: "Genetic markers of pigmentation are novel risk loci for uveal melanoma."
  • The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center: "Increased Eye Cancer Risk Linked to Pigmentation Genes That Dictate Eye Color."
  • PLOS ONE: "Trustworthy-Looking Face Meets Brown Eyes."
  • Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews: "Blue eyes as a risk factor for type 1 diabetes."
  • Hearing Research: "Eye color as a risk factor for acquired sensorineural hearing loss: a review."
  • American Journal of Medical Genetics: "Eye color: A potential indicator of alcohol dependence risk in European Americans."
  • Human Reproduction: "'Behind blue eyes': the association between eye colour and deep infiltrating endometriosis."
  • Journal of Clinical Psychology: "Eye color as a predictor of outcomes in behavior therapy."
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology: "What is Anisocoria?"
  • Nature Genetics: "Genome-wide association studies of autoimmune vitiligo identify 23 new risk loci and highlight key pathways and regulatory variants."
  • Cognitive Psychology: "The relationship between baseline pupil size and intelligence."
  • American Journal of Ophthalmology: "Iris color and cataract: the Blue Mountains Eye Study."
  • National Organization for Rare Disorders: "Waardenburg Syndrome."
  • Perceptual and Motor Skills: "Correlation of eye color on self-paced and reactive motor performance."
  • Medscape: "Does Eye Color Predict Response to Pain?"
  • Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology: "Iris colour, ethnic origin and progression of age-related macular degeneration."
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