Eye Care

Over60

5 things your eye colour says about your health

5 things your eye colour says about your health

There’s more to eye colour than meets the eye – research is highlighting how the colour of our eyes could hold clues to our health.

1. People with dark eye colours are more likely to develop cataracts

A 2000 study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology found people with dark eye colours had a 1.5 to 2.5 times greater risk of cataracts than those with light coloured eyes. Researchers recommended people with dark eyes take particular care in protecting their eyes from UV rays.

2. Light-eyed people were more likely to have age-related macular degeneration

The most common cause of vision loss after 50 is age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and several studies have indicated that light eyes might increase your risk of AMD by two fold. However, the studies have been small and there hasn’t been any research supporting a causal link between the two so it may be more of an association.

3. Women with light coloured eyes better withstand pain

Research presented last year at the American Pain Society suggested women with light eyes (blue or green) may have a higher tolerance for pain and discomfort. A group of 58 pregnant Caucasian women were studied and those with light-coloured eyes appeared to tolerate pain during childbirth better than women with brown or hazel eyes. While the results are preliminary and more research is needed to determine the reason behind the links, the study author believes it’s down to a genetic component and it could help doctors pinpoint a genetic cause of pain in the future.

4. Blue-eyed people may face higher melanoma risk

A 2014 study suggested genes tied to blue eyes put people at higher risk for moles or freckling in childhood, which are often precursors to melanoma later in life. The study which looked at 477 children, aged 6 to 10, found that children with blue eyes were more susceptible to the development of moles compared to kids without the gene. According to the lead author, the number and size of moles children develop tends to predict the person’s risk of melanoma later on.

5. People with blue eyes have higher risk of type 1 diabetes

An Italian study in 2011 found that blue-eyed people suffer a disproportionately high level of type 1 diabetes compared to their darker eyed counterparts. The researchers looked at people with type 1 diabetes in Lazio and Sardinia and found that 21 per cent of sufferers had blue eyes, compared with 9 per cent of the population. Three gene changes associated with blue eyes are believed to be the cause of this.