Researchers Discover Your Eye Color May Make You More Susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder

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Winter. Sucks. And if you’re unlucky enough to have brown eyes, you might be especially likely to get the blues in the winter, according to a new study.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects approximately 10 million Americans. To some folks, SAD only seems natural – who wouldn’t be depressed when they never see the sun and can’t leave their homes without the air hurting their face? Other experts are skeptical that SAD even exists.

Regardless of where you stand on the matter, SAD is a recognized form of clinical depression. It’s unclear what causes the condition, but researchers just discovered that eye color may play a role.

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Researchers in England examined 175 students from two universities. They found that people with blue or gray eyes had a lower risk of the winter blues, while those with darker or brown eyes were more susceptible. Bummer!

The difference is likely due to the eye’s ability to absorb light, researchers explained. Lighter eyes are more sensitive to light, so they don’t need to absorb as much light before this information reaches the retinal cells. Thus, they release less melatonin in the winter than people with dark eyes. Melatonin is responsible for regulating the body’s clock and making you feel tired when it gets dark.

Also, people with blue eyes and light skin are able to produce more vitamin D with less sunlight.

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This study could be the final straw that prompts you to move to a tropical island. Alternatively, the researchers recommend regular walks during the daytime or “phototherapy” with a light box.