Amber eyes are often confused with other eye colors, especially red or hazel eyes. This is understandable, as amber eyes have qualities of several different eye colors. However, amber eyes are a distinct eye color with their own unique properties. In this article, we’ll examine what defines amber eyes and how they differ from red and other eye colors.
What are amber eyes?
Amber eyes are eyes that have a solid golden or copper color. The pigment in amber eyes is called lipochrome. This is a yellow pigment that is found in small amounts in green and hazel eyes. In amber eyes, there is a high concentration of lipochrome that gives the eyes their distinctive golden hue.
Unlike red eyes which have little to no melanin, amber eyes have some melanin in addition to the lipochrome pigment. Melanin is the pigment that also determines brown and black eye colors. The combination of lipochrome and melanin is what creates the rich amber color.
How amber eyes get their color
The specific genetics and quantities of melanin and lipochrome are what make amber eyes look the way they do. Here’s a quick explanation of how amber eye color develops:
– Melanin is the brown/black pigment, lipochrome is the yellow pigment
– Green eyes have some melanin and low levels of lipochrome
– Hazel eyes have more melanin and slightly more lipochrome than green
– Amber eyes have moderate levels of melanin and high concentrations of lipochrome
The high lipochrome concentration gives amber eyes their yellow/golden hue. The melanin balances out the yellowness and keeps amber eyes from looking fully yellow (like yellow labrador’s eyes). The melanin also gives amber eyes some added depth and keeps them from looking one-dimensional.
Amber eyes versus red eyes
So how exactly do amber eyes differ from red eyes? While both can look reddish-orange, there are some key differences:
|Amber Eyes||Red Eyes|
|– Have a solid golden, copper or orange color throughout the iris||– Only appear red or pink when light reflects off them|
|– Always appear amber/golden, regardless of lighting||– Natural redness is only visible in certain light angles and conditions|
|– Contain moderate levels of melanin||– Have very low levels of melanin|
|– Lipochrome levels are high||– Little to no lipochrome|
|– Natural eye color||– Caused by albinism, lack of pigment|
As you can see, the composition of amber and red eyes is quite different. Amber eyes have a natural golden color from birth that remains constant. Red eyes only appear reddish in certain lighting due to their lack of natural pigment.
Amber eyes in different lighting conditions
While amber eyes always maintain their golden-orange color, the exact shade can vary slightly in different lighting conditions.
In bright sunlight, amber eyes take on a bright coppery tone. The golden hue really stands out in natural outdoor light.
In dim or artificial lighting, amber eyes appear darker and more brown. The golden tones are subtle and can look nearly brown/hazel in very low light.
But no matter the lighting, amber eyes will retain some level of golden or orange hue. They won’t suddenly shift to looking fully brown or hazel. The high lipochrome levels keep amber eyes from losing their signature color.
Geographic distribution of amber eyes
Globally, amber eye color is quite rare. It’s estimated that only 1-2% of the world’s population has true amber eyes. However, certain geographic regions and ethnicities have higher rates of amber eyes. These include:
– Southern Europe – Countries like Spain and Italy have higher occurrences of amber eyes, likely due to genetic influence from North Africa.
– West Asia – Parts of countries like Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan have a relatively high number of amber-eyed people.
– North Africa – Amber eyes are somewhat common in Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and other parts of North Africa.
– Central Asia – Uzbekistan and surrounding countries have an elevated rate of amber eyes.
So in summary, amber eyes appear in higher concentrations among peoples of Southern European, Western Asian and North African descent. The genetic predisposition for lipochrome concentration may be stronger in these populations.
Amber eyes in different species
Humans aren’t the only creatures to exhibit amber eye coloration. Many animal species also have eyes that contain high levels of lipochrome and appear amber or orange. Some examples include:
– **Bears** – Grizzly bears often have golden-brown eyes that resemble light amber eyes. The melanin in their eyes balances out the lipochrome.
– **Eagles** – Many eagle species feature eyes ranging from orange to yellow. Their eyes contain very high lipochrome concentrations.
– **Wolves** – Some wolves may have amber-toned eyes, though brown and yellow are more common wolf eye colors.
– **Reptiles** – Certain snakes and lizards can have amber eyes, like pit vipers and some geckos.
– **Birds** – Different birds of prey like hawks display amber eye variations. Chickens may also have rich orange or reddish-amber eyes.
So amber eye color is seen across various animal families, though it is still relatively uncommon compared to brown eyes which are the most frequent eye color across all species.
Amber eyes are a rare and distinctive eye color resulting from specific combinations of lipochrome and melanin pigments. They have an unmistakable solid golden/orange hue that sets them apart from red eyes and other eye colors. Amber eyes occur naturally in certain human populations around the globe and can also be found in some animal species. But no matter if they are seen in people or wildlife, amber eyes are sure to capture attention with their bright and exotic beauty.