You cannot judge a person’s health by the color of their eyes, but it can be linked to certain health risks.

Poets regard the eyes as the windows to the soul. Scientists, on the other hand, are more interested in whether they are windows into our health. Ophthalmologists already know that they can learn a lot about physical and mental health by examining the retina in depth.

But what about a more superficial look at the eyes, especially the colored part of the eye, the iris?

Although it is impossible to 100% predict health status or quality of vision based on eye color alone, some studies suggest that certain health risks may be related to eye color. For example, a 2022 analysis published in the journal Cancer Causes and Control found that blue, hazel, and light green eyes are associated with a higher risk of two common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. (but not melanoma), than dark brown eyes.
What else do we know about eye color and health risks?

Blue eyes may be more sensitive to light

Blue-eyed people have a greater tendency for intraocular lens flare, a phenomenon in which light passing through the eye is scattered, leading to increased glare, blurred vision and decreased contrast, according to a study conducted among European car drivers. People with blue eyes have less melanin pigment in the anterior layer of the iris, which causes light to scatter and absorb certain longer wavelengths. This is how their eyes take on the color blue, a bit like the sky takes on its blue color.

The lack of pigment is also what can potentially make these eyes more sensitive to light. Several studies have looked at the amount of stray light entering the eyes of people with different eye colors. They showed that people with light blue eyes, compared to other colors, had a lot more stray light inside the eye, which led to glare or sensitivity.

Light eyes are linked to a higher risk of certain cancers

As mentioned before, light eyes can mean an increased risk of skin cancer. Research has also shown that people with hazel, green, or blue eyes have a higher risk of melanoma of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye, which includes the iris, than their darker-eyed counterparts.

Signs, symptoms and complications of shingles

Uveal melanoma is a rare cancer that affects about five to six adults in a million each year. Besides having fair skin and light eyes, other risk factors for this condition include certain medical conditions, including congenital ocular melanocytosis or ocular melanocytoma, or a family history of uveal melanoma, which is usually caused by a mutation in a gene called BAP1. Brown eyes pose little to no health risks

Having brown eyes causes few, if any, specific health issues.

A study published in 2000 found that people with brown eyes were at greater risk of developing cataracts and therefore needed to protect their eyes from direct sun exposure. This information should be taken with a grain of salt, however, as no recent studies have corroborated it, and further research is needed to establish a meaningful link. Generally speaking, everyone should make sure to wear 100% UV blocking sunglasses when outdoors to minimize the risk of developing cataracts and other eye diseases. Leading a healthy lifestyle, following a healthy diet, exercising and not smoking are also preventive measures that everyone can take.

Red, yellow and white in the eyes

While the color of the iris is not very indicative of the state of health, certain changes in the appearance of the eyes may be a sign of an underlying pathology that must be examined by a doctor.

red whites

If the white part of your eyes (called the sclera) turns red, it may be a sign of conjunctivitis (or pink eye) or subconjunctival hemorrhage. Scleritis (when the white of the eye is red and swollen) can be a symptom of an autoimmune disease. Although you can manage some of these issues with over-the-counter products such as allergy medications or eye drops, you should see an eye doctor if the redness and irritation persists.

yellow whites

Yellowing of the whites of the eyes (or skin) is known as jaundice. While common in babies, it may be a sign of a serious underlying condition in adults. Jaundice tends to give a yellowish appearance to the entire sclera, but it is also possible to see a yellow spot or mass appear in the conjunctiva, which is the layer of transparent tissue covering the sclera. Yellowing of the eye may be due to the growth of a pinguecula or a pterygium. These growths of the conjunctiva are due to exposure to sun, wind and dust.

Cloudy pupils and irises

When the cataract develops, it can create a visible haze over the pupil and iris of the eye. However, it can cause changes in vision long before the outward appearance of the eye changes.

White corneal ring

The appearance of a gray or white ring around the cornea, the transparent layer of tissue that covers the iris and pupil, is usually nothing to worry about, but it may be a sign of an underlying condition. such as atherosclerotic disease or advanced carotid vascular disease. Called a corneal arch, it is generally considered benign in people over 50, but in those under 50, it warrants a blood test to check for lipid (fat and cholesterol) abnormalities.

Preventive care for all eye colors

Annual eye exams will help you detect any changes in your eyes that could reflect an underlying condition or a deeper problem.

Eye color may be representative of a condition a person already has, rather than predictive of a future problem. Because eye color is not always predictive of disease development, eye health recommendations remain the same for everyone, regardless of eye color. Take care of your general health by adopting good lifestyle habits, get regular examinations by an ophthalmologist to detect eye diseases early, always wear 100% UV-blocking sunglasses when outdoors, and wear eye protection if necessary.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.