Does your eye color affect your vision?


Josh Hamilton

Have you ever been a situation where you needed to smile for a picture outdoors but just could not help but squint because of the sunlight? For the longest time, I accepted that this was just some sort of strange idiosyncrasy of mine that prevented me from being very photogenic outdoors, until a story about baseball player Josh Hamilton made me think otherwise. Hamilton, a former professional baseball outfielder, had far superior batting statistics when playing at night (a more than 100 point difference)- a disparity that he attributed to his blue eyes in the sun. Is there legitimacy to his claim? Is eye color a factor that affects properties of sight?


Admittedly, I am not the first person to raise this question, but it is rather difficult to find any enlightening scientific data on this topic. This study, however, provides strong experimental backing to show a relationship between macular pigment and visual performance in glare conditions. By studying reactions to light stimuli in 36 healthy adults, researchers were able to determine that higher macular pigment densities led to a greater handling of glare. These findings can be synthesized with another study that provides the link between macular pigmentblue-eyes density and eye color. Researchers were able to associate lower densities with lighter eye colors. The likely explanation for this is that people with lighter eye colors are more stressed in glare conditions, and that additional stress accelerates macular degeneration. These findings are consistent with the idea that light-eyed people might be at a disadvantage with regards to their vision clarity.


But what about other aspects of good vision? This is where the data ceases to support any kind of eye-color induced eyesight disparity. There are no studies that support the notion that people with a particular eye color have better vision. There is a study, however, that suggests that different eye colors might have advantages in certain areas of sight. For example, the study found that generally speaking, dark eyed individuals perform better at reactive tasks such as hitting a baseball while light eyed people slightly outperformed in self-paced activities such as hitting a gold ball. This subtle difference might support Josh Hamilton’s claims slightly, though the study ultimately concluded that there were no significant differences.

This issue can also be looked at with statistical analysis. In this article, the author attempts to demonstrate a statistical relationship between eye color and a night-day batting performance brown-eyesdisparity. He began by determining that on average for all players, there was no significant difference in batting numbers between day and night games. He proceeded to analyze whether this held true for batters of specific eye colors. The statistics show that if anything, dark eye color slightly hindered performance, not aiding it as Josh Hamilton would suspect. The data support the idea that vision is largely unaffected by eye color.

Take away- It is true that people with lightly colored eyes might experience a slight disadvantage due to glare, but other than that there is no reason to suspect that having a certain eye color will come with any kind of eyesight advantage or disadvantage.

Note: The pictures themselves are links to their sources.

4 thoughts on “Does your eye color affect your vision?

  1. Kate Billings

    This post really sticks out to me because I have always thought that having light blue eyes my eyes were more sensitive to the light and to glares. I never knew if I was making this up in my head or if my claim was actually true. The claim that people with lighter eyes don’t handle glare as well as people with darker eyes makes sense. I would be completely shocked if there was any correlation of eye color and vision because that to me would not many any sense. Although you talked about how certain eye color are better at doing tasks than other. This surprised me because it doesn’t seem like it would be true. Thanks for teaching me something new!

  2. Hannah Marie Helmes

    I feel this post on a spiritual level. I am someone with extremely light blue eyes. I feel like a vampire when I go outside because it hurts so much to be outside when its sunny unless I have sunglasses on. Though the glare is bad when I’m outside in the sun, I actually have pretty good vision otherwise. What I would like to learn about is WHY we all have different eye colors. Every human had brown eyes until mutations affected the melanin production and caused a change in colors. If you would like to read more about the blue eye mutation, read this article:

  3. Jen Malespina

    I have always thought that blue or lighter colored eyes were more sensitive than brown eyes. Maybe this was just something that my mom told me to make me feel better when being so envious of people with pretty, blue eyes. It is interesting to know that eye color really does not have an effect on sight. You should check out this article explaining how eye color does not impact someone’s sight or sharpness of seeing:

  4. Francis Patrick Cotter

    Max Scherzer! He is the ace pitcher for the Washington Nationals and has two different colored irises (Blue and brown). Eye color clearly doesn’t have an effect on sight if one of the league’s best pitchers has ones with different colors. Although this example is anecdotal, it demonstrates how the argument that sight is affected by the color of the iris is unsubstantial.
    (Side note: Scherzer also has a dog with different colored irises)

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