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What Your Eye Color Says About Your Health

Whether your eyes are brown, hazel, green, blue, gray or somewhere in between, there's more to eye color than meets the eye. Your eyes can tell you a great deal about yourself, more than you might expect. In fact, your eye color can indicate your risk for certain diseases or predict how well your body can handle pain or alcohol. Here's what you need to know:  

 
 

1. You're more likely to have cataracts if you have dark eyes.

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Research has shown that people with dark eyes are at a greater risk for cataracts: an eye condition that appears in the form of a fogginess around the pupil of the eye, accompanied by cloudy vision. According to a 2000 study published in the American Journal of Opthalmology, dark-eyed people had a 1.5 to 2.5 times greater risk of cataracts. Therefore, protecting your eyes from ultraviolet rays is a crucial step in cataract prevention. Dark-eyed people are especially advised to take extra care of their eyes, by not only wearing sunglasses, but a hat with a brim too.

 

2. You're less likely to get vitiligo if you have light eyes.

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According to a review of vitiligo research published in Nature, the autoimmune disease which causes the loss of skin color in blotches, was less common in people with blue eyes. The research showed that among 3,000 vitiligo patients (all of whom were caucasian), 27% of patients had blue eyes, 30% had green or hazel and 43% had brown eyes.

 

 

3. You're less likely to get melanoma if you have dark eyes.

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Studies conducted on melanoma have shown that the same variations seen as protective for vitiligo, increased the risk for melanoma. But how is this possible? One theory suggests that vitiligo is an autoimmune disease, which means that our natural immune response mistakenly attacks our own bodies. Consequently, over-activity of that response could be what makes brown eyed people more susceptible to vitiligo. But, it is also what fights off melanoma. The relationship between the two, however, is unknown.

 

4. You're less likely to be sensitive to alcohol if you have light eyes.

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Studies have shown that people with dark eyes may possibly drink less than their blue or green-eyed friends. A 2001 study published in Personality and Individual Differences found higher self-reported alcohol use among women with light eyes, as well as more frequent alcohol abuse among a group of light-eyed prisoners. Consequently, the researchers concluded that dark-eyed people may be more sensitive to drugs and alcohol, leading them to drink less.

 

5. You're more likely to withstand pain if you have light eyes.

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According to research conducted at the American Pain Society's 2014 annual meeting, findings presented indicated that women with light eyes may have a higher tolerance for pain and discomfort. In the study, a small group of women were measured before and after giving birth. Those with darker eyes exhibited more anxiety and sleep disturbances in response to the pain of the experience. Furthermore, dark-eyed women also experienced a greater reduction in pain after receiving an epidural. This suggested that dark-eyed women are more sensitive to pain. Nevertheless, the results are very preliminary, but could potentially pinpoint to a genetic cause of pain.

 

6. You're less likely to have age-related macular degeneration if you have dark eyes.

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Vision loss after 50 occurs due to Age-Related Degeneration (AMD) - damage to a small part of the eye near the center of the retina which sharpens your eyesight. It usually occurs as blurriness and progresses to spots that appear completely blank. A number of small studies have suggested that in addition to smoking and a family history of this disease, the color of your eyes (particularly those with light colored eyes) are at a higher risk of AMD. But, most studies have been small and the significance of the findings is questionable.

 

7. Changing eye color could signal something wrong.

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Reddening in the whites of the eyes may signal undiagnosed allergies. While those that turn yellow may indicate liver problems. If just one eye color has recently changed, it could be a sign of inherited diseases like neurofibromatosis, which could cause nerve tissue tumors or Waardenburg syndrome. Symptoms for Waardenburg syndrome typically include deafness and pale skin, or may signal melanoma of the iris. If however your eyes have always been two different colors, it is most likely due to slightly different patterns of pigment assigned to each eye.

 

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