Surprising Side Effects Of Having Blue Eyes

Blue eyes do get lots of attention. Although not quite rare — that distinction belongs to green and gray, per Healthline — they are uncommon enough, occurring in just 8 to 10 percent of the world's population, that they do get noticed. So if you have baby blues, you've probably gotten many compliments. But besides their beautiful hue, blue eyes have benefits and drawbacks when it comes to health. Read on to discover the associations blue irises have with certain conditions and characteristics. 

Susceptible to vision problems. Bright sunlight and fluorescent lights may cause a blue-eyed person to have trouble focusing (per DukeHealth). Because blue eyes have low amounts of light-absorbing pigments, more light gets through the iris. This means that people with blue eyes tend to be more light-sensitive, Ruth Williams, M.D., president-elect of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, told EverydayHealth

Increased risk of eye disease. The fact that blue-hued irises allow more harmful ultraviolet light to pass through to the retina can cause more problems. One study found that people with light-colored eyes are twice as likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (per WebMD). And they're also subject to an increased risk of eye cancer — melanoma of the uvea, which is the middle layer of the eye. Luckily, not only is this cancer rare, but your chances of being diagnosed with it are reduced by diligently wearing UV-protected sunglasses.

More health associations with blue eyes

Greater tendency toward alcoholism. It's definitely odd, but it appears that blue-eyed people are more likely to be alcoholic. Of the studies that examined the link between light-colored eyes and alcoholism, one found those with brown eyes were more susceptible to feeling the effects of alcohol. Because of this susceptibility, they drank less, therefore not reaching the amount of alcohol that would make them dependent (via ResearchGate). A more recent study looked at over 1,200 people who were either diagnosed alcoholics or weren't alcoholics but sometimes consumed alcohol. It found a higher correlation between lighter eye color — particularly blue — and alcoholism than between brown eye color and alcoholism. The theory is a gene that carries a mutation leading to increased alcohol tolerance lies near the gene that has a major impact on eye color.

Higher risk of a variety of conditions. By now, blue-eyed folks may be thinking they've lost the genetic lottery. Unfortunately, there's more. They're also more prone to hearing loss because melanin (the pigment that gives skin, hair, and eyes color) is in the ears as well, and offers greater protection against loud sounds. Research has also linked blue eyes and fair skin with a higher risk of getting type 1 diabetes, while women with endometriosis have blue eyes more than any other color. But don't give up hope!

Now for the good news for blue-eyed people

Better strategic thinkers. A study conducted back in 2007 at the University of Kentucky came to the conclusion that those with blue eyes might be better strategic thinkers, as they tend to excel at physical activities that require planning and strategy, such as golf and pitching, while brown-eyed folks do better at movements based on reaction time, including boxing and hitting a baseball.

Higher pain tolerance. A small (but encouraging) study for blue-eyed women, by geneticist Inna Belfer at the University of Pittsburgh, assessed the overall pain experiences of women in labor, from their antepartum and postpartum pain, to their mood, sleep, and coping behavior after the birth (per MedicalDaily). The study found that women with light-colored eyes experienced less discomfort in labor than women with dark eyes, who felt more pain at rest and when moving, and woke from pain more often. Additionally, the blue-eyed women were less anxious and less likely to become depressed after the baby arrived. Now, that's a nice perk for blue-eyed moms-to-be!