Our eyes are a beautiful thing. They can be windows to the soul and our innermost thoughts and emotions. They come in an array of colors, and now our eyes can even help determine something about our drinking behaviors. A new study finds that eye color may be linked to alcoholism. There is more than meets the eye–so to speak–with this new study.
The Eyes Have It:
This new study, that surfaced around July 2015 by the University of Vermont, has found that European Americans with lighter eye colors (green, gray, or brown in the center, and especially blue eyes) have higher rates of alcohol dependency than do their dark brown-eyed counterparts. Scientists believe that there is a genetic link but they are unsure as to why. The study also shows that those with blue eyes have the highest rate of alcoholism.
Linking eye color with alcohol is not necessarily a new concept. In 2000, a study found that brown eyed females averaged 4.91 drinks in one month but females with lighter colored eyes averaged 5.78 drinks in a one month’s time. Scientists have also found that those with blue eyes or lighter eyes are also more likely to be very competitive and have lower pain tolerances.
Correlation Doesn’t Necessarily Imply Causation
In psychology and science, we must be careful to note that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. More information is needed to explain why this link between lighter eye colors and alcohol dependency might be true.
For those who have never heard of the popular psychology phrase “correlation does not imply causation,” here is an example. Pretend you are taking surfing lessons and you are the only one with brown eyes. Everyone else in your surfing class has blue or green eyes and they are all doing great. You are not doing very well in your surfing class and a friend might say, “You are bad at this because you have brown eyes. Everyone else has green or blue eyes and they are doing great.” Just because you have brown eyes does not mean that this is the reason why you are a bad surfer (and it’s quite silly to think that). Perhaps you don’t practice and everyone else does (that could be a cause of your poor performance). Or perhaps others have been surfing longer than you. Or maybe they are just naturally better at it and you need more time to learn, as we all learn at different rates. To simply say that others are doing better than you because they have green or blue eyes has no real basis in reality. That is what is meant by “correlation does not imply causation” and more evidence (and extensive scientific testing) would have to be done to back up your friend’s claim.
However, in the case of blue eyes being linked to alcoholism, there is strong scientific proof that this actually might be the case. Astoundingly, it has been discovered that in terms of the chromosome that controls alcohol dependence, the genes that determine a person’s eye color are also found on that same chromosome. There is a statistically significant link between alcohol dependency genes and eye color and this leads scientists to think that alcoholism has a strong genetic component. But still, scientists are baffled as to why lighter eyes would have higher alcohol dependence and more research needs to be done in order to find the true reasons.
Those Baby Blues
In the recent study, scientists took 1,263 European Americans (of those 992 had alcohol dependency and 271 did not have alcohol dependency) and found that those with lighter eyes are 54 percent more likely to have alcohol dependency than those with darker eyes. Those with blue eyes were 80 percent more likely to have alcoholism than those with all other eye colors. Researchers took into account age and gender but fell short and did not look into other factors such as income or mental health in narrowing down other possible causes. Also, patients were not tested for depression, which has been linked to heavy drinking.
A different and separate 2015 study found that your status in life (income and level of success) could be linked to your alcohol dependency. This study claims that the way you live and your personal environment play just as important of a role as your DNA does to determine if you will become alcohol dependent. In other words, your behaviors and choices play a big role in alcohol dependency, too. And while you may not be able to change your genes, you do have control over your behaviors and choices.
Don’t Jump To Conclusions
If you know of someone who has blue eyes, don’t automatically think this person might have or will develop an alcohol addiction based on this information. This is just one of many reasons that can help scientists and doctors determine how best to diagnose those who need help. If you are concerned for someone’s drinking habits or even your own, always seek professional help, and never accuse someone of being an alcoholic solely based on their eye color (even if they drink heavily). Much more research needs to be done before the reasons why eye color and alcoholism are linked.
If you feel you are at risk of developing an alcohol-related disorder based on your habits or other factors, or know of someone who needs help, don’t hesitate in reaching out to a professional today. Contact us at AlcoholTreatment.net to find out more information and for help getting into a treatment facility that meets your needs.