Have you ever seen someone with amber-colored eyes? Chances are the answer is no.
Amber eyes are very rare. Only about 5% of the world’s population has amber eyes, making it No. 3 on the list of rarest eye colors. The rarest eye color is green, and gray eyes are the second-rarest color.
Here’s an interesting fact about amber eyes: They are more common in animals than in humans. Amber-colored eyes are often referred to as “wolf eyes” because their golden-yellow color is similar to wolves’ eyes. Other animals with this unique eye color include cats, owls, dogs, eagles, pigeons, and fish.
What Causes Amber Eye Color?
As with all eye colors, amber-colored eyes are mostly determined by genetics and melanin.
Scientists previously believed that only one gene determined eye color, so if your parents both have brown eyes, you would too. In the past several years though, research has found there are actually up to 16 genes that influence eye color. That’s why it’s possible for parents with blue eyes to have a child with green eyes.
Melanin is the pigment in your body that’s responsible for your eye, skin, and hair color. The amount of melanin you have is passed down from your parents.
There are two types of melanin involved in determining the color of your eyes:
- Eumelanin – Eumelanin is either black or brown. The more eumelanin you have, the darker your eyes, skin, and hair.
- Pheomelanin – This type of melanin is also called lipochrome. It’s a light reddish-yellow color.
People with amber eyes are most commonly found in Pakistan, the south of France, the Balkan region, Italy, Hungary, Spain, and Portugal.
Amber Eyes vs. Hazel Eyes
While they may look similar at times, amber and hazel eyes are not the same color:
- Amber-colored eyes are a solid gold hue that don’t contain any other color.
- Hazel eyes often appear to have flecks of brown, green, blue, and/or gold.
- The colors in hazel eyes can sometimes make it look like they have changed colors.
Amber Eyes vs. Brown Eyes
It may seem like amber-colored eyes are just a light shade of brown, but brown eyes are darker because they have more eumelanin. Amber eyes have more pheomelanin than brown eyes, and that’s what gives them their yellowish-gold tint.
Which Celebrities Have Amber-Colored Eyes?
If you’ve never seen someone with amber eyes, here are some celebrities who have this very rare eye color:
- Darren Criss
- Nicole Richie
- Jennifer Lopez
- Justin Bieber
- Eliza Dushku
- Jennifer Garner
Protect Your Eyes
If you have amber eyes or another light eye color, you are at higher risk for UV damage because you have less melanin in your eyes and body. This means it’s even more important for you to wear sunglasses and broad spectrum sunscreen when you go outside.
No matter what color your eyes are, they are unique. Take care of your eyes with annual eye exams so they can take care of you!
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- Genotype-phenotype associations and human eye color. Journal of Human Genetics. January 2011.
- Is anything known about the genetics of eye color beyond brown, blue, or green? Like amber? The Tech Interactive. July 2019.
- The world’s population by eye color. WorldAtlas. January 2023.
- Amber eyes color: 13 interesting facts, causes, celebrities. Health Kura. September 2022.