10 Surprising Scientific Facts About Blue-Eyed People

blue-eyed womanMany a Hollywood celeb from Cameron Diaz and Zooey Deschanel to Mr. 007 James Bond himself have seen their star rise thanks to their baby blues. But there's more to having light-colored irises than, um, meets the eye. For starters, it's getting to be kinda rare. The number of people who have blue eyes has slid over the past few centuries. Today, only 1 in 6 Americans have 'em, as opposed to nearly half the U.S. population at the beginning of the 20th century.

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And while having light eyes and fair skin has been associated with beauty and fertility since the days of castles and knights (i.e., the Middle Ages), being a blue-eyed beauty does have a few drawbacks. For instance ...

1. You're more likely to be an alcoholic. According to a recent study that looked at over 1,2000 Americans, blue-eyed folks are more likely to be alcoholics. Nope, it's not a coincidence. For some reason, the gene for blue eyes lines up with the gene related to excessive alcohol use. Whoops!

2. You're at higher risk of skin cancer. That whole deadly melanoma thing? Yeah, well, it's more likely to happen to people with blue eyes and red hair because you're also at risk of developing moles or freckles early on in life. (Which are known precusors to skin cancer.)

3. You're more sensitive to light. Less pigment in your irises means you don't have as much protection against sunlight. Translation: You're likely to squint at the beach if you forget your shades, and you're more prone to eye diseases like macular degeneration.

4. You're a good candidate for diabetes. The good news just keeps coming, doesn't it? Italian researchers found that blue-eyed folk were more likely to develop the chronic disease. Apparently, the genes associated with eye color are to blame.

5. Your reflexes aren't exactly stellar. A 1987 study found that kids with blue eyes don't have the quickest reaction times -- that is, when it comes to boxing, defensive football, or throwing a baseball. Researchers did helpfully point out that blue-eyed kids do better when an activity requires "hesitation." Because, you know, Hesitation Ball is all the rage on the blacktop.

6. People don't trust you as much. Bummer! Especially since  trustworthiness correlates to how attractive you are to other people. (Are all these studies done by scientists angry at their blue-eyed ex-wives?!)

7. It takes you a while to warm up. That's the gentlest way we can say it. Berkeley researchers found that blue-eyed kids as young as 2 were shyer and more wary of new things than their brown-eyed counterparts.

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But hey, all is not lost. Being blue-eyed also has some clear benefits:

8. You're a better strategic thinker. Studies show that people with blue eyes especially excel in activities that require self-pacing, be it running a marathon or writing a thesis. (Or playing Hesitation Ball.)

9. You tolerate pain like a champ. Light-eyed women handle pain better than women with dark eyes, according to University of Pittsburgh researchers. That definitely comes in handy during childbirth. Or when you're forced to sit through any of the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies.

10. Blue-eyed men find you irresistible. Weirdly, blue-eyed men prefer women who share their same light eye color. It's basically an evolutionary (and therefore unconscious) "paternity check." If they get a blue-eyed woman pregnant, they can instantly be sure the baby is theirs. Sorry, were you expecting something more romantic?

 

Image via © RonOrmanJr/iStock

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