Eye Color and Your Health

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Eye Color and Your Health - First Eye Care North Arlington

Your Eye Color Can Say a Lot About You

One of the very first things people tend to notice about you is your eyes. More specifically, your eye color often catches their attention. The color of the eyes is typically a trait of a child that many parents debate on. Will the baby have light eyes or dark eyes? Regardless, however, your eye color can be an indicator of certain health risks.

It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that people wouldn’t think to connect their eye color with health risks such as an increased risk of cancer, but often they can.

How Eye Color Develops

The part of your eye that contains its color is known as the iris. The iris’ color is determined by how much of the pigment melanin it contains. Humans are born with three genes for their eye color, accounting for the most common colors: green, brown, and blue. However, what causes hazel, gray, and combinations of color has yet to be explained.

Brown eyes are often considered dominant while blue eyes are considered recessive, but scientists have found that eye color is not as simple as once thought. Most babies are born with light, blue eyes. Melanin is often not present at birth, so as the child gets older, their eye may darken if melanin develops. By the time they are three, they should have their true eye color.

Melanin not only gives your eye color, but it also protects them from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Regardless of your eye color, you should always protect your eyes with 100% UV protection sunglasses.

Changes in Color 

The iris acts like a muscle, expanding and contracting to react to sunlight. When the iris expands or contracts, the pupil size will either grow or shrink. It grows when there is less light and shrinks when it is brighter. Lighter eyes, like blue, gray, and green eyes, tend to close the pupil more to help protect the eyes from sunlight due to less melanin. Darker eyes do not need to shrink as much.

As you get older, your eye color may change. However, if it does changes dramatically or only one eye changes color dramatically, you need to see your eye doctor. This may be an early indicator of diseases such as diabetes, Fuchs heterochromic iridocyclitis, Horner’s syndrome, or glaucoma.

What Your Color Indicates

Having a specific iris color has been linked to several different conditions. There has been substantial research that shows a correlation between eye color and specific diseases or conditions.

Light Eyes: Blue, Green, Gray

As with fair-skinned people, those with lighter irises have less melanin to protect them from the sun. This lack of melanin leads them to have a greater sensitivity to light. The more pigment in your eyes, the more light is absorbed and doesn’t get through. If you have either blue, green, or gray eyes, you are at a much higher risk of contracting uveal melanoma, an eye cancer. Macular degeneration is also more likely to occur in those with light eyes.

However, a study involving 58 pregnant women done by the University of Pittsburgh Medical School found that those with light eyes reported feeling less pain than those with dark eyes.

Dark Eyes: Brown, Black 

While the melanin in your iris will protect your eyes better from the sun’s UV rays, those with dark eyes are more prone to vision-clouding cataracts. You can help prevent cataracts from developing by protecting your eyes from the sun.

Another condition that individuals with dark irises are more susceptible to is vitiligo. Vitiligo is characterized by the loss of pigmentation in the skin in blotches. Some experts believe that some of the genes that lead to blue eyes also lower the risk of developing this condition. Those with dark irises are also more likely to be more sensitive to alcohol but also less likely to become dependent on it.

Your eye color is often one of your most important physical identifying traits. While brown is the most common color in the world, people can have blue, green, gray, and even hazel eyes. This color may even indicate your risk of developing certain conditions. It is important to regularly schedule eye exams to monitor and maintain your eye health. Contact First Eye Care North Arlington to schedule an appointment.

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