The colour of our eyes is determined by our genetics. The amount of melanin found in our eyes makes them either light or dark. But aside from aesthetics, does our eye colour impact the health of our eyes and our vision?
The Colour of the Iris
Pale eyes are generally more sensitive to intense light and to the sun. They contain less pigment than dark eyes, so light passes through the iris more easily. When the sun is shining, people with light-coloured eyes can easily feel uncomfortable without sunglasses. This discomfort can occur even on cloudy days when light passes through clouds.
As for vision, eye colour does not seem to have any influence on it, according to many studies that have been done on this subject. Having brown or blue eyes does not affect vision, just like the colour of a bird’s feathers does not affect the way they fly. Eye colour is purely aesthetic, and has no impact on visual acuity. If your child has blue eyes, their chances of becoming myopic or hyperopic are the same as a child with brown eyes. It is genetics and life habits that influence the quality of their vision. For example, a child who spends a lot of time in front of a digital screen is more likely to become shortsighted than a child who plays outdoors frequently.
Having blue eyes can also be a risk factor associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This condition affects the macula, and affects the central field of vision. Although having blue eyes can increase the risk of AMD, age is still the most important factor.
The Colour of the Eye Tissues
A change in the colour of the eye’s tissues can be a sign of health problems. For example, the white part of an eye that turns red is sometimes a symptom of an infection, conjunctivitis, dry eye, or allergies. If the white part of the eye is yellowish, it may be a sign of a liver problem. A white circle around the cornea is sometimes associated with high cholesterol. Also, watch for the appearance of recent brown or black spots on the white of the eye or on the iris: they can reveal some health issues. Pupils with white or pale blue veins may also indicate the presence of cataracts. If you see a change in the appearance of your eyes, consult your doctor or optometrist.
Finally, brown eyes are less sensitive to the sun than blue eyes. However that does not protect them from the effects of UV rays! No matter the colour of your eyes, it is important to wear sunglasses to protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun. To learn more about the factors that affect vision and eye health, consult your optometrist.