Oh, You’ve Got Green Eyes

Everyone in my family except my mother has dark eyes. My mother always needs a hat and sunglasses when she goes outside in the sun. The rest of my family are not so bothered by the sun. This made me wonder,  “Are light eyes really more sensitive to the sun and why?”


An article on the Duke Medicine blog, published on August 27, 2013,  explains that people with light colored eyes are more affected by photophobia because they have less pigment in the three layers of the eye. Photophobia is a sensitivity to light. An ophthalmologist at Duke, Anupama Horne, MD says that photophobia does not cause loss of vision.

A website called Science Q&A goes on to explain that a lighter iris allows more light into the retina. The website also includes the interesting fact that blue and green eye color is caused by a lack of pigment (melanin) not a different color of pigment. This lack of pigment creates the refraction of light called Rayleigh scattering that is the same process that causes the sky to be blue. Science Q&A explains that people with brown eyes have more melanin which provides a, “…protective filter that reflects the light back out of the eye.” Horne says that it is easy to protect your eyes if you do have photophobia. It seems like common sense but wear proper UV protective sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat.


A condition known as Pterygium also called “surfers eye” can occur from exposure to ultraviolet light, wind, and dust. It is a benign growth of cells. Once again, the use of sunglasses with side shields that block 100% of UV rays and a wide-rimmed hat are preventative measures.

So it is true that my mother’s sensitivity to light is most likely cause by her green eyes. If you have light colored eyes, make sure that you have a good pair of sunglasses and stock up on hats.

Here is a cool song about eye color from the 80’s you might like.

New Order

3 thoughts on “Oh, You’ve Got Green Eyes

  1. Kateryna Onysko

    I never thought that people with blue or green eyes are more sensetive to light. It is a useful information for me to know, I will start to check what kind of sunglasses I buy and I guess I need to wear hats more often.

  2. Liam Arun Datwani

    I had never thought of this before. i knew there was a reason for some people having lighter colored eyes versus those who did not but I never accrued to me that it had something to do with sunlight and things like that. That sounds stupid now but it never crossed my mind. In fact, there was a study in JAMA Ophthalmology that went over the same thing but focused on the chemical reasoning for the sensitivity not the color. Here:

  3. Yu Zhang

    Previously, I think green or blue eyes look so beautiful and I even imagined my eyes can change color as the vampire… Your blog reminds me that there are some drawbacks of these pretty light colored eyes, so maybe I’ll stop day dreaming. Though scientific implements of changing eye colors are still myths, there are occasions and possibilities that our eyes’ color may change.

    Completing this miraculous task requires pair work of iris and pupil. “The iris is a muscle that expands and contracts to control pupil size. The pupil enlarges in dimmer lighting and grows smaller in brighter lighting. The pupil also shrinks when you focus on near objects, such as a book you are reading. When the pupil size changes, the pigments in the iris compress or spread apart, changing the eye color a bit.”– source. Plus, eye color change has something to do with our emotions, for instance, when we are angry, pupil size and iris color change and our eyes can help conveying the message to spectators by altering colors. Isn’t it magical?

    Science is fancy, but we don’t explain supernatural stuff– that is the witch’s job.

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