What your eye colour says about your health

Those with lighter eyes need to be more careful about UV rays

Rachel Hosie
Wednesday 03 May 2017 12:20
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They say the eyes are the window to the soul, but it turns out they’re also a window to a whole lot more.

Did you know that having brown eyes could mean you have a faster reaction time than someone with blue eyes? And green eyes could be a sign that you’re more likely to develop eye cancer?

Some scientists and researchers claim the colour of your eyes really can predict your likelihood of having certain health problems.

Grey, green and blue eyes

“Clinically speaking, people with blue or light-coloured irises do tend to be more light-sensitive,” Ruth Williams, MD, president-elect of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and an ophthalmologist at the Wheaton Eye Clinic in Chicago told Everyday Health.

“This is likely due to the sparsity of light-absorbing pigment in the eye.” Having lighter-coloured eyes - grey, green and blue - could mean an increased risk of cancer.

The reason is that lighter eyes have less pigment to protect them from UV rays, and so there’s a greater lifetime risk for melanoma of the uvea (the middle layer of the eye), which is an extremely rare cancer.

“People with light iris colour need to be diligent in wearing UV-protected sunglasses,” advises Dr. Williams.

What’s more, people with lighter eyes are usually fair-skinned too, so are often at higher risk of skin cancers.

Brown eyes

According to a study by the University of Louisville, people with brown eyes have slightly quicker reaction times during certain athletic activities than those with light eyes.

But the findings weren’t strong enough to be conclusive: “In my experience, I couldn’t say we can judge performance based on eye colour,” says optometrist Guadalupe Mejia, OD, of the University of Louisville.

The findings come despite previous studies suggesting that eye colour is not in fact an accurate predictor of health risks.

It’s important to keep, well, an eye on your eyes for any changes though - look out for the whites of your eyes turning red or yellow, the pupils becoming hazy or the corneal ring turning white.

These changes in appearance may be a sign of underlying conditions that should be checked out by a doctor.

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