Purple eyes are beautiful, charming and mysterious. They are common in many anime shows as well as in reality TV shows like Rowena McLeod and Tasha Baines in Supernatural.
Many actors wear colored contact lenses to bring these characters to life, but do purple eyes really exist?
Let’s dive into what causes purple eyes and how rare they are.
Do purple eyes exist?
In short, yes, purple eyes do exist, but only in extremely specific cases, which include some eye conditions.
Eye color is determined by the amount of melanin in the front layer of the iris. Therefore, people with dark eyes, such as brown eyes, have a lot of melanin in the iris, while people with light eyes, such as blue eyes, have much less pigment.
Not only that, but there is a region on chromosome 15 that plays an important role in the eye color you receive.
For purple eyes, many moving parts need to come together. The eyes of actress Elizabeth Taylor are the most famous example of these dreamy violet or purple eyes. So, it is possible to have purple eyes naturally.
What Causes Purple Eyes?
When it comes to determining eye color, melanin is the real culprit. It is the main pigment within the iris, giving us the colored eyes we live in. The more melanin, the darker the eye color.
Unlike people who are born with brown eyes, if your iris is born with a lack of melanin, it can cause the light to split into the spectrum, giving your eyes green, hazel, blue or even purple.
However, in most cases, people with purple eyes are actually more of a violet. Blue eyes will appear purple because the red blood vessels in the iris reflect light.
Albinism is a genetic disorder that affects the production of melanin, the pigmentation of the skin, hair, and eyes. People with this condition either have very low melanin or none at all.
Because of this, many people with albinism develop purple eyes.
Many people believe that people with genetic disorders only have red eyes. While most people with ocular albinism actually have blue eyes, light can reflect off blood vessels inside and can show through the iris, making the eyes appear pink or red. The same goes for purple or violet eyes.
Back in biology class, people can get purple eyes through their parents’ genes.
For example, if a baby has a blue-eyed mother and a grey-eyed father, both genes recessive, the baby will end up with one or the other, or in rare cases, a combination.
That’s where the purple eyes come from…theoretically.
4. Fuchs uveitis syndrome
Fuchs uveitis syndrome is a condition in which the uvea of the eye becomes inflamed. This includes the iris and the two parts of the eye behind the iris, the ciliary body and the choroid.
Some experts believe that this inflammatory condition can cause eye color changes that turn the eyes blue or even purple.
This condition is often caused by autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and Behcet’s disease. It can also be caused by infections such as syphilis and tuberculosis.
5. Eye tumors
Although having purple eyes is troublesome, eye tumors have been shown to cause changes in your eye color.
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These tumors can grow in or behind the iris of your eye. Most of these tumors are actually cysts or pigmented lesions that resemble moles called moles.
People with moles often see changes in their eye color. Treatment includes radiation and surgery.
6. Waardenburg Syndrome
Waardenburg syndrome is a group of disorders that are usually inherited in families and include deafness, light skin, hair, and eye color. The condition is an autosomal dominant trait, which means that only one parent must pass the mutated gene to the child to get it.
There are four main types of Waardenburg syndrome, but the most common are types I and II. There is no cure, but there are treatments.
What is Alexander’s Genesis?
Alexander’s Genesis is a mythical disease circulating on the Internet. It claims it made humans “perfect”, and one of the symptoms was that the person’s eyes turned purple in infancy due to a genetic mutation.
But this myth is exactly that: a myth. It even goes back to 2005.
Other symptoms associated with Alexander’s Genesis include perfect vision, light skin that doesn’t burn, dark brown hair, no body hair, women who don’t menstruate but continue to have children, have a strong immune system, and a balanced metabolism. Life expectancy is between 120 and 150 years.
Again, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.
Is purple the rarest eye color?
Purple eyes are extremely rare, but they are about as rare as red eyes. Less than 1% of the world’s population has either of these two eye colors.
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But in addition to purple or violet eyes, there are other very rare eye colors:
black eyes: Black eyes are technically non-existent, but very dark brown eyes that are difficult to distinguish from the pupil.
pink eyes: Pink eyes can come from albinism, where a person’s eyes lack pigmentation that allows light to bounce off the blood vessels below the iris, causing the eyes to look pink. Only 1 in 20,000 people have conditions that allow eye color.
amber eyes: Amber eyes are often seen in people of Asian, Spanish, South American and South African ancestry. This is due to more pheomelanin pigmentation in the eye than normal. About 5% of the world’s population has amber eyes.
red eyes: The causes of red eye are the same as red eye: albinism and red blood vessel reflex. Less than 1% of the world’s population has this eye color.
grey eyes: Grey eyes themselves are very rare, with only about 3% of the world’s population having them. People with grey eyes have similar levels of melanin as people with blue eyes.
green eyes: Green eyes are the result of lipopigment and a small amount of melanin in the iris. Only about 2% of the world’s population has green eyes.
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Deauna Nunes is YourTango’s associate editor, covering topics such as pop culture, lifestyle, zodiac, love, and relationships. She has been published by Generic, Emerson College’s literary magazine.follow her Twitter and Instagram.