A new study found that eye color and alcohol use may be associated with one another. The link pertains to the potential alcohol dependence that European Americans may develop if they have a particular eye color.

The findings of the study may contribute to the knowledge that doctors have of the etiologic factors linked to alcoholism and other psychiatric disorders, the study authors said.

A team of researchers from the University of Vermont collaborated with other scientists for years to develop a genetic database that consist of information from over 10,000 individuals. Majority of the people included in the said database are black or European Americans and are found to have a number of mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression and drug or alcohol dependence (AD). All individuals in the data index were noted to have at least one mental condition. The researchers then determined 1,200 individuals with European descent from the database, who exhibit alcohol dependence. The experts looked for and identified an eye color link and subsequently repeated their investigation for three more times, also taking into consideration other factors such as the study subjects' gender, age and differences in locations and backgrounds.

The findings of the study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics found a link between an AD-associated gene cluster and eye color genes. The researcher also discovered that there is a connection between another AD-associated gene and a pigmentation gene. Specifically, they determined that those who have light-colored eyes, particularly blue eyes, are more at risk of developing alcohol dependence than those who have dark-colored eyes.

The authors based their findings on the alcohol dependence definition based on the criteria stated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - 4th Edition, explained Dawei Li to The Huffington Post. Li is a co-author in the research and is an assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the university.

Li said the team plans to simulate the findings of the study in the future. According to him, if an association between AD and eye color is again identified, they will proceed to determine the basis of the link, specifically investigating if the association is precisely brought about by genetics, or other cultural elements may influence the results. The authors said that even though future replication is necessary, their study was able to suggest that eye color data may be helpful in the study and research of AD and that additional interpretations may identify new etiological factors that may lead to AD.

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