Shakespeare wrote, “The eyes are the window to your soul.” And experts actually consider the eyes as a kind of “window” into your body, too.
That’s because the health of the tiny blood vessels in your eyes reflect the health of ALL the blood vessels in your body—creating a snapshot of your overall health.
And now, modern researchers say that your eye COLOR can tell us a lot about your health, too…
Eye color linked to health problems
According to research, people with light grey, green, or blue eyes run a higher risk of developing these five health problems…
- Macular degeneration: People with lighter-colored eyes have double the risk of getting age-related macular degeneration—the leading cause of vision loss among people older than 60 years. Fortunately, even if you have light eyes, there ARE steps you can take to reduce your risk. (Learn more about these effective, prevention tips in the May 2017 issue of Insiders’ Cures, my monthly newsletter. If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.)
- Alcohol dependence: According to multiple recent studies, people with fair eyes also have a higher risk of developing a dependence on alcohol compared to dark-eyed people. And having blue eyes showed the strongest association with alcoholism. It turns out, the gene that determines your eye color and the gene for increased alcohol tolerance line up near one another on chromosome 15. And that close proximity may be a factor. Of course, people with darker colored eyes are more sensitive to alcohol and drugs and, therefore, have a lower tolerance. And that tendency may make them less subject to abuse and dependence.
- Type I diabetes: People with fair eyes also tend to have a higher risk of developing Type I diabetes (also known as juvenile diabetes). People suffering from this type of the disease don’t have the ability to make insulin. (Whereas people with Type II diabetes make insulin in the pancreas, but the body becomes resistant to it over time.)
- Melanoma skin cancer: People with blue eyes run a greater risk of developing melanoma—the one deadly form of skin cancer. (It accounts for about 9 percent of all skin cancers.) Of course, as I explained earlier this week, you can lower your risk of developing melanoma by avoiding certain types of blood pressure medications.
- Hearing loss: Light-eyed people are more likely to experience hearing loss. And some scientists think this effect relates to pigmentation, as more melanin pigment naturally protects your eyes, hair, and skin from damage. So, more melanin in the middle and inner ears may protect hearing as well.
People with dark eyes have a higher risk of developing these three problems…
- Vitiligo: People with dark eyes are more likely to develop a patchy pale skin condition called vitiligo, where there is loss of pigmentation on regions of the skin. Whereas the genes for blue eyes may be linked to a lower risk of this skin condition.
- Cataracts: An Australian study found that people with darker eyes experience more than TWICE the risk of getting cataracts in the lenses of their eyes compared to their light-eyed peers. Fortunately, as I explained this fall, a new study found that enjoying this so-called “vice” could help PROTECT you from ever developing this common eye problem as you get older. (It may even be something you already do!)
- Lower pain tolerance: According to an interesting study, women with darker-colored eyes have a lower pain threshold than women with lighter-colored eyes.
In the end, no matter what your eye color, make sure to take steps to protect this amazing and complex sensory organ as you get older. Ways to do this include keeping active, wearing a hat and ultraviolet (UV)-protective sunglasses when you’re out in the sun or driving, staying hydrated, keeping off extra weight, cutting sugar, and eating a rainbow of colors.
“More than Meets the Eye: Eye Color and Alcoholism. Mo Med. 2016;113(2):98-103.
“The Dark Eyes Have It — a Higher Risk of Cataracts, That Is.” WebMD, 10/5/2000. (webmd.com/eye-health/news/20001005/dark-eyes-have-higher-risk-of-cataracts-that-is)
“Patients’ Eye Color a Clue to Pain Tolerance.” Medpage Today, 5/2/2014. (medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/aps/45566)