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Behind blue eyes: New study reveals possible link between eye color and alcoholism

Posted on 08-04-15 in Addiction, Substance Abuse

Behind blue eyes: New study reveals possible link between eye color and alcoholism

Recent research published in the July issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics: Neuropsychiatric Genetics (Part B) found a possible link between eye color and alcoholism. Genetic researchers at the University of Vermont discovered data potentially indicating that people with blue eyes have a higher risk of being alcoholics.

Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Dawei Li and Arvis Sulovari, a doctoral student researching biological and molecular sciences, led this study that examined the connection between people’s eye color and alcohol addiction. Their test not only seeks to define the genetic indicators of alcoholism, but also aims to discover the roots of other mental illnesses as well. Sulovari said, “This suggests an intriguing possibility – that eye color can be useful in the clinic for alcohol dependence diagnosis.”

The study’s authors found that Americans of European decent with light-colored eyes were at higher risks of alcoholism and than those with dark brown eyes. Those people with blue eyes demonstrated the highest tendency to be alcoholics. Li noted more research is required to further determine the reason behind this link.

Li has worked with scientists and doctors throughout the northeastern United States and they collaborated to build a genetic database of 10,000 people, consisting of mostly European Americans and African Americans, who were diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder. Many of them have multiple diagnoses, such as addiction, schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder. Li commented, “These are complex disorders….There are many genes, and there are many environmental triggers.” The research also found that the “genetic components that determine eye color” showed to “line up along the same chromosome as the genes related to excessive alcohol use.”

This research paves the way for further studies to test the tie between specific genetic traits and mental illnesses and diseases: “That would be our long-term [goal], that it could be applied to the clinic. For me as a scientist, there is still a long way to go,” says Li.

While this research may provide insight into more efficient means of diagnosing alcoholism in the future, finding effective treatment is a crucial component of the recovery process. Sovereign Health Group provides a wide range of treatments in locations across the country, aiming to help patients who are struggling with addiction, mental health disorders and dual diagnosis conditions. Those in need of treatment should do not hesitate to call. Call us at any time to speak to a member of our team about finding the right treatment option for you.

Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer