Eye colour linked to vitiligo

New research has revealed eye colour could be linked to vitiligo.

A study of nearly 3,000 non-Hispanic Americans of European descent has found people with blue eyes are less likely to have vitiligo. Researchers also identified 13 new genes that may  predispose people to the condition.

Among the people studied with vitiligo:

    • 27% had blue or gray eyes, compared with 52% of Americans of European descent without the condition.
    • 43% had tan or brown €eyes vs. 27%.
    • 30% had green or hazel eyes vs. 22%.
Although the study (published in the journal Nature Genetics) focused on vitiligo, it was also suggested findings could shed light on how eye color may have implications on melanoma risk – because the two diseases are related genetically. People with brown eyes may be less likely to have melanoma.
Richard Spritz, director of the Human Medical Genetics and Genomics Program at the school of medicine, which coordinated the study commented:

“We think that vitiligo represents over-activity of a normal process by which one’s immune system searches out and destroys early cancerous melanoma cells.”

“Genetically, in some ways vitiligo and melanoma are polar opposites. Some of the same genetic variations that make one more likely to have vitiligo make one less likely to have melanoma and vice-versa.”

The study’s authors concluded that as researchers learn more about the genes associated with vitiligo, they may learn more about the genes involved in other autoimmune diseases as well as melanoma.

So, what is your eyecolour? And what are your thoughts about this study? Let us know by commenting below, tweeting @vitiligproject or getting in touch via our facebook page.