What Your Eye Color Says About Your Health and Personality

Our eyes give us cues about the world around us. They warn us of danger when we see flashing red lights, broken glass, or a car accident on the side of the highway. They let us read books to fill our minds with knowledge, and they increase our appreciation of the world around us when we look at the beauty of nature.

Eyes also give us information about other people. In Shakespeare’s day, Elizabethan scientists believed that eyes emitted a sort of airborne chemical that could alter your emotions when making eye contact. Thus the term “love at first sight.” Both dogs and lie detectors track the movement of the eye to determine whether or not a person is trustworthy.

But modern research shows us that our eyes also inform us about certain aspects of ourselves. Below, we’ve compiled fascinating facts about eye color and how it relates to personality and personal health. Read through the following list to sort through the hype and find out the truth about your eye color.

Fact #1: Eye color can change over time.

The protein called melanin that determines eye color doesn’t start to develop until 6 to 36 months after birth. For this reason, babies appear to have blue eyes at birth and then brown eyes later in life. Before about three years of age, babies’ eyes will appear murky andmay change color depending on the light.

After the eye color stabilizes, a few additional changes can take place. The number of pigment granules in the eye determines the shade of your eye color, light or dark. If pigment decreases, your eyes will lighten. If the pigment decreases, eyes will appear darker.

For albinos, whose eyes produce no pigment, their eyes will retain a pinkish color. Unlike other eyes that have colored irises, albinos’ irises are transparent. The red or pink color of their eyes comes from the blood vessels behind the iris.

Fact #2: All blue-eyed people share a common ancestor.

According to a study by the University of Copenhagen, a genetic mutation occurred between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago that caused blue eye color to emerge. Were it not for this single common ancestor, humans would all still have brown eyes.

Today, researchers have found blue eyes declining in the world, but not necessarily because brown eyes are dominant. Contrary to previously held belief, brown eyes are not caused by a single-gene trait. Rather, many genes contribute to the expression of eye color. Though blue-eyed people become harder to find every year, the rarest eye color worldwide today is green, not blue.

Fact #3: Eye color can predict personality.

Medical and psychological studies show that eye color often correlates to certain personality traits. For example, a Cancer Center study of pregnant women demonstrated that women with light-colored eyes had a higher pain tolerance during childbirth than their dark-eyed counterparts. Brown-eyed women felt more pain, but also responded faster to anesthesia.

Another study shows that participants rated people with brown eyes as having a more dominant personality. Participants also selected brown eyes as more trustworthy and blue eyes as more attractive.

However, these results could have arisen from the participants’ perception. The correlation between perceived personality and eye color doesn’t necessarily mean that eye color causes certain character traits.

Fact #4: Blue eyes sunburn more easily.

A sunburn on your eyes, called photokeratitis, occurs when you expose the white part of your eye to direct sunlight for too long. Studies show blue eyes that contain less melatonin are more prone to burn. Brown eyes, with the most melatonin, resist sunburns more easily.

If your eyes get burned on a hike or boating trip, they might feel gritty and scratchy. You might also feel extra sensitive to light for a few days. If your condition worsens, see an eye doctor to prevent infection or other damage. Otherwise, invest in a good pair of UV blocking sunglasses for your next adventure.

Take care of your skin as well as your eyes. The same gene that causes a lack of melatonin in blue eyes also exists in skin pigment. So when you head outside, cover up with sunscreen and glasses to prevent skin cancer later in life.

Fact #5: Brown eyes are more likely to develop cataracts.

Cataracts occur when the lens behind the iris darkens and obscures your vision. Aging, trauma, or genetic disorders can all influence your chances of cataracts. But a recent University of Sydney study proves that darker eyes have an increased risk of developing cataracts regardless of sun exposure, diabetes, and smoking habits.

To prevent cataracts, people with light and dark eyes should take precaution against sun exposure. A hat or UV blocking sunglasses will usually do the trick.

For those who have developed cataracts, talk to your eye doctor to see if you can survive with glasses or contacts or if you’ll need surgery to remove the damaged tissue.

The Eyes Have It

Eye color is an integral part of what makes us human. Our eye color distinguishes us from others, much like our fingerprints do. Take pride in your iris’s color and remember these five facts to protect your precious eyes from health risks.