February 14, 2019
Patients always ask questions about macular degeneration , a leading cause of blindness in Americans older than 55.
The color of your eyes gives you some indicator of your risk. The base tissue of the iris is blue in color. If your genetics call for an abundance of melanin pigment in your skin and hair, you will also develop this in your iris, which can cover up the blue. There will also be more pigment in your retina, to help protect your macula. Light colored eyes typically have less protective pigment, are more sensitive to sunlight, and more prone to macular degeneration. If both parents have light colored eyes, so will the kids. Your eye color gives some indication of where your ancestors came from.
In summary, blue-eyed or light hazel-eyed individuals sunburn more easily, and are at higher risk for macular degeneration when you are older. In a perfect world, we would have everyone wear sunscreen, not smoke, eat lots of vegetables and fruits, and wear good quality polarized sunglasses or Transitions. It is true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
-Dr. Chris Scholz