structure image Amber Eye Color


If you have amber-colored eyes, you have one of the rarest eye colors in the world. They may appear similar to green or dark brown-colored eyes, but they have features other eye colors don't exhibit.

Amber eyes aren't very common and mostly occur in certain ethnic groups. They are also known as “wolf eyes” since their golden hue resembles the color of wolves’ eyes.

This article discusses amber eyes in more detail, including the genetics behind amber eyes, how they differ from other eye colors, and the vision health risks that may come with having amber eyes.

What Color Is Amber?

Amber-colored eyes tend to have a solid golden or yellowish hue. You may notice a golden color and a light-brown ring surrounding the pupil. This eye color typically has warm undertones, which contribute to its golden appearance. Sometimes amber eyes may seem to have a brown undertone.

Some people might mistake amber for other eye colors, such as hazel or honey brown. However, hazel eyes typically have a mixture of green, brown, and gold, while honey-brown eyes have a yellowish tint.

What Gives Amber Eyes Their Color?

Melanin and genetics play an important role in determining your eye color.

Amber Eyes and Melanin

Eye color is affected by the type, amount, and distribution of melanin throughout the iris. Melanin is the pigment that gives color to your eyes, skin, and hair. The more melanin you have, the darker your features typically are.

There are two types of melanin associated with your eye color:

  • Eumelanin - This is a pigment that is high in concentration in people with brown eyes, and it produces a black-brown hue.
  • Pheomelanin – This is a reddish-yellow pigment that forms a yellowish tint in your eyes. If you have amber eyes, your irises have more pheomelanin than eumelanin. 

When it comes to the eyes, melanin is reflected in layers of the iris. The iris is the colored structure of your eye that surrounds the pupil. The pupil is the black area that increases or decreases in size depending on the light level. The distribution of melanin in the front and back layers of the iris is what helps give the eyes their color.

Amber Eyes and Genetics

Two genes are thought to play an important role in determining eye color: OCA2 and HER2.

he OCA2 and HERC2 genes each have two variations known as alleles. Although other genes also have an impact, the dominant allele has the most influence in determining eye color.

For example, brown eye color is referred to as a dominant trait. Blue eye color, however, is a recessive or hidden trait, and it is usually only expressed when the gene’s alleles are the same.

Other genes, such as ASIP, IRF4, SLC24A4, SLC24A5, and SLC45A2, can also help determine your iris color.

Researchers used to believe that only one gene could influence your eye color and that it was impossible for your child to have brown eyes if you and your partner had blue eyes. But they now know that multiple genes affect eye color inheritance.

Your eye color does not always predict your child's eye color. Genetic variations can sometimes cause the unexpected, as children can have amber or other colored eyes if their parents have blue eyes.

How Do You Differentiate Amber from Other Eye Colors?

Below, we look at the differences between amber eyes and other eye colors.

Amber Eyes vs. Brown Eyes

Amber-colored eyes are lighter than brown-colored eyes. They have more pheomelanin, which is evident in their yellowish-gold tint.

You may notice that brown eyes have a darker brown-black shade, as they are rich in eumelanin.

Depending on the lighting, amber eyes may appear brown or golden, but brown eyes don’t usually appear to shift in color the way amber eyes do.

Amber Eyes vs. Hazel Eyes

Amber eyes are different from hazel eyes, as they have a yellowish-gold hue.

Hazel eyes have more eumelanin than pheomelanin. They typically have a blend of two colors from green, brown, and gold. Some people, however, have a combination of all three.

If you have difficulty determining whether your eyes are amber or hazel, look for a green tint. Hazel eyes tend to have a green hue, while amber eyes usually don’t.

Amber Eyes vs Green Eyes

Unlike amber eyes, which have a golden hue and a higher amount of pheomelanin, green eyes have a yellow-green hue and a greater concentration of eumelanin.

How Rare Are Amber Eyes?

Amber eyes are very rarewith only 5% of people worldwide having this eye color.

They occur naturally in all ethnic groups. However, they are more common among people of Spanish, Asian, South African, and South American descent.

prevalence of amber eyes in these populations is believed to result from genetic mixing and migration patterns over thousands of years.

Some celebrities also have amber-colored eyes, including:

  • Darren Criss
  • Rochelle Aytes
  • Eliza Dushku
  • Nicole Richie
  • K.J. Apa

How Do Amber Eyes Affect Your Eye Health?

People with light-colored eyes tend to be more light-sensitive. They may also be at an increased risk for some types of eye cancer. If you have a lighter shade of amber eyes, your eye doctor may recommend some eye care tips to help lessen your risk of eye problems, such as:

Uveal Melanoma

Amber eyes are rich in pheomelanin, which is associated with light-colored eyes. Some studies have suggested that this may be a risk factor for uveal melanoma. This is a form of cancer that develops in the uvea, the middle layer of the eye that contains blood vessels and pigments. It can affect people of any age, but the risk increases as you get older.

Light Sensitivity

Amber eyes are more sensitive to light than dark-colored eyes. They have less pigmentation, so there is more light scattered in the eye.

Light sensitivity, also known as photophobia, can cause eye pain and difficulty focusing in bright environments.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is an eye condition that causes central vision loss and typically occurs in people aged 50 and older. It can affect your ability to focus on fine details when looking at objects up close and far away.

The condition is also more common in people with light-colored eyes.

Can Amber-Colored Eyes Change Color Over Time?

Your eye color can change over time, but this is very rare. If you have light-colored eyes, they may appear to change color based on the color of the clothing you are wearing. This does not change your eye color. Instead, it is the clothing color or lighting creating an optical illusion.

However, medications, trauma, and illnesses can affect your eye color. Variations in pupil size can also impact the appearance.

Some people may experience other eye color changes that have nothing to do with the iris, such as a change in the appearance of eye color due to cataracts.

Can You Wear Colored Contact Lenses If You Do Not Have Amber Eyes?

You can definitely wear colored contact lenses if you do not naturally have amber-colored eyes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers colored contact lenses medical devices, so consult your eye doctor before buying any eyewear products.

Non-prescription colored contact lenses are worn more for appearance than for function. Some people use decorative contact lenses to complement their Halloween costumes. Regardless of whether your colored contacts are used for vision correction, you should get a prescription from your eye doctor to wear them.

The FDA advises against using contact lenses without a doctor’s approval and against buying them from beauty supply stores, street vendors, or unverified websites. Buying contact lenses from an untrusted source can increase your risk for redness, infections, and vision problems.

ContactsDirect offers monthly and one-day-use colored contact lenses. You can choose your preferred color and provide your contact lens prescription information online.

Are There Specific Eye Care Tips Tailored for Amber Eye Color?

If you have amber-colored eyes, you should take the same precautions as you would with any other eye color.

Experts recommend the following habits to help keep your vision at its best:

  • Avoid rubbing your eyes – This helps limit the spread of infections and reduces your risk of inflammation and keratoconus. Keratoconus is a condition in which the cornea thins and starts bulging outward, which can cause blurred vision and light sensitivity.
  • Manage your blood glucose levels – High blood sugar levels can lead to diabetic retinopathy and other eye conditions. This means that you may have a greater chance of experiencing vision loss if you have diabetes.
  • Follow a healthy diet – Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamins C and E can help reduce your risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. These types of food include almonds, eggs, broccoli, and olive oil, among others.
  • Wear sunglasses – The sun’s UV rays can damage your eyesight, no matter how old you are. When outdoors, wear sunglasses that provide UV400 or 100% protection from UVA and UVB. This also applies to children, as most eye damage from the sun happens during childhood.
  • Opt for daily disposable contact lenses – Using a fresh pair of contacts every day helps lower your risk of eye infections and corneal complications.
  • If you notice any changes to your vision, see an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. They can provide a diagnosis and suggest a treatment plan.

They can also provide you with a prescription if you’re interested in buying colored or non-colored contact lenses.