Are Blue Eyes More Sensitive to Light?


| 5 Comments
Maybe, like me, those of you with blue eyes have experienced great sensitivity to light. I find that most times when I step outside into the light, I sneeze. Also, when I am outside in sunlight, my eyes will water terribly. Sometimes, I am worried people will think I cried the whole way to class. When I was little, my mom told me it was because blue eyes are more sensitive to sunlight...I decided to find out if it was true. 

I am not the only one who claims that their blue eyes are sensitive to light. Just the other day, a girl I know was complaining about how the light hurt her eyes, and there have been numerous baseball players that say their blue eyes affect their batting.

In "Baseball's Curse of the Baby Blues", it describes that in an ideal world, all of the best baseball players have brown eyes. Josh Hamilton has recently came out and said that his blue eyes are the reason for the difference in his daytime to nighttime batting averages. Hamilton's optometrist agrees, saying "Because of the lack of pigment in lighter color eyes, like blue or green opposed to brown, you get a lot more unwanted light and that can create glare problems." 

In another article on DukeHealth.org, the phenomenon of light sensitivity in blue eyes is called "photophobia." Photophobia occurs because people with light eyes have less pigmentation and light can affect their eyes more harshly. The article suggests that fixing the problem could be as easy as "avoiding prolonged time spent in harsh lighting or bright lights or wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and wide brimmed hats when outside..."

As for sneezing when I step out into sunlight, it seems that this is not a "blue eye" problem, but rather, about 25% of people "sun-sneeze." Sun-sneezing is sometimes called "photic sneeze reflex" but it is not widely understood how or why it happens. This article suggests that sun-sneezing may be genetic...now I'm definitely going to have to ask my parents.

Do you have sensitive blue eyes? Are you a "sun-sneezer"?

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5 Comments

I too have noticed that my blue eyes are very sensitive to sunlight. My optometrist has suggested me buying sunglasses with polarized lenses to reduce the harshness of the sun. I did some further research to discover just how these lenses can protect sensitive blue eyes.
When the sun shines, light is being scattered and it bounces off the surfaces of the ground. When the light bounces, it tends to travel in a horizontal direction, which creates a glare. Polarized lenses are designed with a filter that blocks the reflected light, which dramatically helps reduce glare. This is especially effective when fishing or being near the ocean when the glare on the water is blinding. Benefits of polarized lenses are that it reduces eyestrain and improves visual acuity. I would be interested to see experiments on the long-term effects on the eyes of protecting them with polarized lenses. Polarized lenses are a great way to combat increased light sensitivity due to light eyes.
Works Cited:
http://www.allaboutvision.com/sunglasses/polarized.htm
http://www.spectacleworld.co.za/products05.htm

When I was a kid my mom had the same philosophy but I never knew for sure. I, myself, was a baseball player with blue eyes and often had trouble seeing the ball was I was up at bat during the day due to strong sun rays. Also, I am known for blinking during pictures because of the flash from the camera. After clicking on these links, I finally know for sure that blue eyes are more sensitive to light.

I think the hypothesis that blue eye are more sensitive to sunlight is logical. This same logic can be applied to people with light skin being more sensitive to the sun. It is common knowledge that whites are more prone to sun burns and even skin cancer. According to this article: Europeans/White people especially the albino whites burn in the sun and in the worst circumstances turn pink and get skin cancer. This also why they need to wear sunscreen because their non-melanated skin is easily damaged by the sun's UV rays because their pineal gland, an organ between the eyes has been calcified. I don't have blue eyes or have asked anyone with the blue eyes about this but I find it very likely that it is true. We all look different but we react differently to different things on a racial and individual level.

I've heard multiple people tell me that blue eyed people are more susceptible to obtaining cataracts than other eye colors. I did find an article that says that blue eyed people are more prone to obtain cataracts, but it also stated other variables as well such as people who smoke, poor diets, or those who don't protect their eyes as well. I, myself, have blue eyes so this issue is important to me. There isn't any scientific explanation behind why this is the case, however. Based on my little knowledge of art and the way colors work, I'm thinking it may have to do with the way the brightness of the color blue collects light more than a dark color would which is why we wear sunglasses with dark, polarized lenses to protect our eyes against the light.
http://www.drcutler.com/general-health/what-about-cataracts-issue-16/

I have blue eyes and, personally, I've never heard of the idea that blue eyes are more sensitive to the sun. Everything you've brought up in your article seems to make sense, however I don't really know if my eyes are more or less sensitive to the sun because other peoples because it's a question I've never thought to ask my friends or to bring up to my optometrist.

What I do know that I suffer from, which doesn't really have anything to do with my eye color but is still an eye issues, are styes. Styes are like little bumps or tiny pimples that form on the underside of your eyelid because an oil gland gets clogged up with bacteria. Sometimes this is due to a foreign body being in your eye (like makeup or an eyelash). Like how you mentioned that "sun-sneezing" could be genetic, my optometrist told me that the likelihood someone can form styes is often left up to genetics. When I went to see him over break, he told me that the types of styes that I had weren't form eyelashes getting stuck in my eye, but rather my body's propensity to just naturally develop them more often because of my DNA. I know that my mom has gotten them many times before because she always has a hot compress at the ready, which helps the styes to go away when you rest it on your eye lids.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002004/

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