If you have blue or green eyes, you may be a tough cookie. At the 2014 annual meeting of the American Pain Society, Inna Belfer, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburg, presented a study linking eye color to variations in pain tolerance.
Dr. Belfer studied 58 healthy pregnant women at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center. Twenty-four women were placed in the darker eye group (brown eyes and hazel eyes) and thirty-four were placed in the light eye group (blue eyes and green eyes). Dr. Belfer and her research team measured responses to pain before and after giving birth using a variety of standardized tests, questionnaires and surveys.
The women who were in the darker eyed group experienced a more heightened response to pain and reported increased anxiety and sleep disturbance as compared to the light eye group (Source: Pittsburg Post Gazette).
What This Means
Really, this study just introduces more questions. Is there a genetic biomarker for pain tolerance? Will this information change how surgeries are performed or how pain medication is administered? What about the connection of eye color and pain tolerance in men and children?
Dr. Belfer admitted that this was a very small study to make any conclusions. She stated, “All we know now is super limited—a hypothesis about why there is a difference at this point would be too optimistic—but this could be a next step in finding a genetic background of pain.”
What is the next step? Dr. Belfer wants to expand her eye color study to include men, children and larger distinctions between groups. Who knows? Maybe the next time you have to go in for surgery, your anesthesiologist will gaze into your eyes first!