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Amber Eyes: How Rare Are They and What Causes Them?

Amber Eye Color

Have you ever gazed into someone's eyes and been captivated by a striking golden hue? If so, you may have encountered one of the rarest eye colors in the world: amber eyes. This unique and enchanting eye color has fascinated people for centuries, often drawing comparisons to precious gemstones.

This article explores the fascinating world of amber eyes, from their rarity to the science behind their mesmerizing color. It also explains how amber eyes affect your eye health, if their color can change over time, and specific care tips.

What Color Is Amber?

Amber is known for its distinctive golden or copper-like hue and is usually compared to the color of honey. The amber color gets its name from the fossilized tree resin of the same name, which typically exhibits a similar brown or yellowish-orange color. Amber eyes fall somewhere between yellow and light brown on the color spectrum, often appearing in a solid, warm tone.

Unlike other eye colors that may have flecks or variations, amber eyes usually present a uniform color throughout the iris. They range from light amber eyes with a honey-like shade to deeper, more intense yellow-amber eyes. In certain lighting conditions, amber eyes may even appear to have a slight reddish or orange tint, adding to their unique allure.

What Gives Amber Eyes Their Color?

The science behind eye color is fascinating and complex. Two main factors contribute to the development of amber eye color: genetics and melanin production in the iris.

Recent genetic research has shown that up to 16 different genes play a role in determining eye color. This genetic complexity explains why eye color inheritance is more complex than once thought.

And as far as melanin is concerned, it is a pigment that also determines skin and hair color. In amber eyes, there is a medium level of melanin, enough to give the eyes a golden or coppery hue but not so much as to make them dark brown. Note that there are two types of melanin relevant to eye color: eumelanin, a dark brown or black pigment, and pheomelanin (also called lipochrome), a lighter, reddish-yellow pigment.

Amber eyes result from a higher concentration of pheomelanin in the iris, combined with some eumelanin. This unique balance creates the golden eye color that sets amber eyes apart from other eye colors.

How Do You Differentiate Amber from Other Eye Colors?

Amber eyes are often confused with other light eye colors, particularly hazel, light brown, or green, because a golden or coppery hue characterizes them. 

Here's how to tell them apart:

Amber Eyes vs. Brown Eyes: While both colors contain melanin, amber eyes have a higher concentration of pheomelanin, giving them a lighter, more golden color appearance. Brown eyes, on the other hand, have more eumelanin, resulting in darker shades. Some people may have amber honey-brown eyes, which blend characteristics of both colors.

Amber Eyes vs. Hazel Eyes: The key difference lies in the uniformity of color. Amber eyes typically present a solid golden or coppery color throughout the iris. Hazel eyes, however, display a mix of colors, usually combining shades of green and brown with possible gold flecks.

Amber Eyes vs. Green Eyes: Green eyes have a greenish tint due to low melanin and the Rayleigh scattering of light. Amber eyes lack this green tint and are warmer and more golden in color.

How Rare Are Amber Eyes?

Amber eyes are rare and more commonly found in specific regions and ethnic groups, particularly those with European or Asian ancestry.

If you have amber eyes, you're part of a select group. Only about 5% of the world's population is estimated to have this eye color, making it one of the rarest eye colors in humans. To put this in perspective, amber eyes are more common than green eyes (the rarest at about 2%) but less common than blue eyes (about 8-10% of the population).

How Do Amber Eyes Affect Your Eye Health?

While having amber eyes doesn't directly impact your eye health, some considerations must be remembered.

The amount of melanin in your eyes can affect your sensitivity to light and your risk for certain eye conditions. People with amber eyes or lighter eye colors may be more sensitive to bright light because they have less melanin to absorb light and protect the retina from UV rays. This can increase the risk of certain eye conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration or cataracts, over time. 

It's essential for everyone, especially those with light-colored eyes, to wear UV-protective sunglasses outdoors and have regular eye exams to monitor eye health.

Can Amber-Colored Eyes Change Color Over Time?

Eye color can change over time due to several factors, including age, lighting, and certain medical conditions. While dramatic changes in eye color are rare, amber eyes can appear to change shade under different lighting conditions or depending on what you're wearing. Amber eyes in the sun may appear more coppery or golden, showcasing the unique interplay of light with this eye color.

In some cases, though, eye color changes can indicate underlying medical conditions. Certain medications can also affect eye color, although these instances are uncommon and usually temporary. Hence, consult with an eye care professional if you notice a sudden or dramatic change in your eye color.

Can You Wear Colored Contact Lenses If You Don't Have Amber Eyes?

For those who admire the amber eye color or any other desired color but weren't born with it, colored contact lenses offer a way to achieve this. These lenses are available with or without vision correction and can provide a way to enjoy the unique beauty of amber eyes.

When choosing colored contact lenses, getting a proper fitting and prescription from an eye care professional is required to ensure comfort and avoid potential eye health issues. Never buy contact lenses from unverified sources, as they can pose significant health risks, such as eye infections or other implications.

DAILIES Colors and Air Optix Colors, available at Blue Planet Optics, offer a great choice of colored lenses that may work for you. In our experience, the honey shade from Air Optix Colors is closest to a natural amber eye color.

colored contact lenses

Are There Specific Eye Care Tips for Amber Eyes?

Eye care for amber eyes primarily focuses on UV protection due to their light color and increased sensitivity. Always wear 100% UV-protective sunglasses outdoors, even on cloudy days. Consider photochromic lenses that darken in bright light for added protection. Use wide-brimmed hats to minimize direct sunlight exposure, especially during peak hours or in high-UV environments.

Regular eye exams are mandatory for maintaining the health of your amber eyes. Schedule annual check-ups with an eye care professional to monitor your eye health and detect potential issues early.

A diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants is beneficial for overall eye health. Focus on foods high in vitamins A, C, and E and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Amber eyes are a rare and fascinating color that captivates with their golden or coppery hue. While they may require extra care due to increased light sensitivity, individuals with amber eyes can take pride in their unique and enchanting gaze.

Whether you have amber eyes or admire them from afar, understanding the science and care behind this eye color adds to its allure and mystique.

Whether you have amber eyes or not, taking good care of your eyes is of paramount importance. Regular eye exams, UV-protective sunglasses, and a healthy diet can help maintain your eye health and keep your eyes shining brightly. 

If you're considering colored contacts, Blue Planet Optics offers the contact lenses you know and love at unbeatable prices. Order now and save! 

Frequently Asked Questions About Amber Eyes

Is it rare to have amber eyes? 

Yes, amber eyes are indeed rare. Only about 5% of the world's population has amber eyes, making them one of the least common eye colors. They're rarer than brown or blue eyes but slightly more common than green eyes.

What nationality has amber eyes? 

Amber eyes aren't exclusive to any single nationality. However, they're more frequently found in people from countries around the Mediterranean, parts of Eastern Europe, and some areas of South America and Asia. Due to global migration and genetic diversity, amber eyes can appear in individuals of any nationality.

Are my eyes amber or hazel?

Distinguishing between amber and hazel eyes can be challenging. Amber eyes typically have a solid golden or copper color throughout the iris, while hazel eyes usually have a mix of colors, often green and brown, with possible gold flecks. Amber eyes in the sun tend to look more golden, while hazel eyes might show more variation in color. If unsure, an eye care professional can provide a definitive answer during an eye exam.

What is the prettiest eye color?

Beauty is subjective, and no scientifically "prettiest" eye color exists. Some people find amber eyes particularly striking due to their rarity and golden hue. However, the most beautiful eye color depends on personal preference and cultural influences. All eye colors, including amber, brown, blue, green, and others, uniquely charm and contribute to an individual's appearance.

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