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14th Annual Congress on Controversies in Ophthalmology

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Sep 22, 2022

What Your Eye Color Can Say About Your Health

by Hallie Levine, AARP, September 8, 2022

Plus, 8 types of changes in eye color that indicate problems

They say that your eyes are the window to your soul — but they may also be a window to your health. Your eye color may predispose you to certain medical conditions, such as skin or eye cancer. And while actual changes in eye color are rare, they can also indicate an underlying health disorder that needs to be addressed. “Eyes can appear to change color due to an undiagnosed disease, a new medication, or even trauma,” says David Silverstone, M.D., a professor of ophthalmology at the Yale School of Medicine. Sometimes, he adds, it’s due to an actual change in the iris, the colored part of your eye, and sometimes it’s due to something going on in another part of your eye that appears to change the eye color.

Here’s a look at what your eye color can mean for your health.

Can eye color predict your health?

Your eye color may offer some clues about how likely you are to develop certain cancers, or certain forms of eye disease, later on. Here’s what the research shows:

Those with lighter eyes have a higher skin cancer risk.

A 2021 study published in the journal Cancer Causes and Control looked at over 35,000 men and found that, compared to people with dark eyes, people with hazel, green or blue eyes had up to a 24 percent greater risk of developing a type of skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma, and were up to 17 percent more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. People who have less pigment in their eyes tend to have less pigment in their skin, which raises the risk of skin cancer, explains Davinder Grover, M.D., a Dallas ophthalmologist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Not surprisingly, other research also suggests that folks with light-colored irises (blue or green) have a higher risk of developing eye melanoma than those with darker orbs.

People with brown eyes have a lower incidence of macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an age-related condition in which a part of your retina, the macula, is damaged. This causes you to lose your central vision so that you cannot see fine details. It’s the leading cause of vision loss in people age 50 and older. Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetes-related condition that affects the blood vessels in your retina; over time, it can cause vision loss. It may be that pigment itself offers some protection, Grover explains. The AAO says those with brown eyes have a lower incidence of both of these conditions…..

 

Read more: https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2022/eye-color-and-medical-conditions.html?cmp=EMC-DSM-NLC-OTH-WBLTR-1309502-1597907-6654027-NA-091622-Webletter-MS1-NA-NA-TM60-Health&encparam=3B6mAJ1uRLAnHLqfu067QQ%3d%3d

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