Are Blue Eyes More Sensitive to the Sun?
Do you have blue eyes? Do you find that you squint or tear up in the bright sun? Are blue eyes more sensitive to the sun? The short answer to the question is yes. Light colored eyes, including blue, green, and gray are more reactive to the sun or bright light. Professionals refer to this as photophobia.
Photophobia refers to light sensitivity. It may cause difficulty seeing or focusing in bright situations but it does not equate to the actual permanent loss of vision. If you find your eyes overly water, or that you are squinting or rubbing your eyes in harsh light, these could all be symptoms that you have some degree of photophobia.
Pigmentation and Processing Light
Lighter eye colors occur due to the absence of pigment, called melanin. The more melatonin present means better protection from the sun, therefore protecting the retina. When melanin develops, it creates a protective filter that reflects the light back out of the eye. Lighter eye colors are due to a phenomenon of scattering light known as Rayleigh scattering. The lack of pigment in people with light-colored eyes results in light sensitivity.
To fully understand why light eyes are sensitive, it’s better to have an understanding of how your eyes work. In technical terms, light colored eyes pass light more easily through the iris’ stroma. The light is then reflected off the layer of darker cells directly behind the stroma. Longer wavelengths of light are absorbed by these darker cells, called the epithelium. However, the shorter wavelengths, such as blue and green, undergo the scattering phenomenon as they pass back through the stroma. What does that mean? For light eyes, more light passes through the iris and can over-stimulate the bundle of nerve cells at the back of the eye.
Fun Folk Lore
Eye color myths and mystery have been around for centuries. One legend states a person with blue eyes sees heaven and brown eyes see the earth. Therefore an individual with one blue and one brown eye could see both. Today we have a name for it, heterochromia of the eye. It is not an eye disease and does not affect your vision. There are actually three types, complete, partial, and central. But maybe we will leave that for another blog.
Protecting Your Eyes
Because light colored eyes are more susceptible to damage from the sun, many eye doctors recommend you limit your exposure. Consequently, most people cannot avoid this. So, the good news is that you can easily prevent damage. Simply avoid prolonged unprotected exposure by wearing sunglasses or wide brimmed hats. Not only does this serve to reduce sensitivity, but it also protects the eyes against the sun’s harmful UV rays.
So, are blues eyes more sensitive to the sun? You bet. But, there are steps you can take to ensure that your light colored eyes are protected at all times. Have more questions? Contact the professionals at Looking Glass optical. Our knowledgeable team is here to provide you peace of mind. We can schedule an appointment to address all of your concerns.