Are Purple Eyes Real? How It's Possible To Have Violet Colored Eyes

It is possible to have natural purple or violet eyes, but only under specific conditions.

Last updated on Jul 20, 2023

close up of a women's purple iris and a purple flower Inga Ivanova / Shutterstock

Purple or violet eyes are beautiful, enchanting and mystical. Elizabeth Taylor was famous for her violet eyes (which may have actually been blue, depending on the lighting and who you ask), and the color is prevalent in many anime shows, as well as seen on characters in live-action shows, like Rowena MacLeod and Tasha Banes from "Supernatural."

Most actors have to wear colored contact lenses to make these purple-eyed characters come to life, but is it possible that some people come by their gorgeous peepers naturally?


Do purple or violet eyes exist?

In short, yes, purple eyes do exist, but only in extremely specific circumstances, including the presence of certain eye conditions.

Eye color is determined by the amount of melanin in the front layers of the iris. Dark brown eyes, for example, contain large amounts of melanin in the iris, while eyes of lighter colors, such as blue eyes, have much less of the pigment.

There is also a region on chromosome 15 that plays a major role in the eye color you are born with. So it is possible for someone to be born with natural purple eyes, but several factors need to fall into place for them.


RELATED: What Your Eye Color Reveals About Your Personality

Causes of Natural Purple Eyes

1. Melanin

Melanin is the key culprit when it comes to determining eye color. As the major pigment within the iris, it largely determines each of our eye color. The more melanin, the darker the eye color.

Unlike people born with brown eyes, if you are born with a lack of melanin in your iris, it causes light to split into a spectrum, allowing your eyes to be green, grey, hazel, blue, or even purple. In most cases, purple eyes are actually more of a violet color.


2. Albinism

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, people with albinism can develop blue, purple, or red eye coloring.

Most people with ocular albinism actually have blue eyes. For those who produce absolutely no melanin, light reflecting off their eyes' blood vessels makes their irises appear red, while for those who possess low amounts of melanin, the presence of some blue combines with the red of their blood vessels to make their irises appear purple or violet.

3. Genetics

Going back to biology class, purple eyes are a product of genetics.


For example, if a baby has a blue-eyed mother and a gray-eyed father, both of which are recessive traits, the baby will end up with one or the other color, or, in some rare cases, a combination. This is where purple eyes could come from... theoretically.

4. Fuchs uveitis syndrome

Fuchs uveitis syndrome is a condition where the uvea of the eye becomes inflamed. The uvea includes the iris and two parts of the eye that lie behind it known as the ciliary body and the choroid.

Some experts believe that this inflammatory condition can cause eye color alterations, turning the eyes blue or even purple.

The condition is often caused by autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and Behçet's disease. It can also be caused by infections like syphilis and tuberculosis.


5. Eye tumors

Eye tumors either within or behind the iris can cause your eye color to change. The majority of these tumors are actually cysts or pigmented lesions call nevi, also known as eye freckles, which are similar to moles.

People with nevi may notice changes in their eye color. Treatments include radiation and surgery.

RELATED: Choose An Eye Color And See What It Really Reveals About You

Is Alexandria’s genesis syndrome real?

Alexandria's genesis syndrome is a mythical medical condition that starting making its way around the internet in the early 2000s. The urban legend claimed a genetic mutation had been discovered which made humans "perfect" — and one of the symptoms was the affected person's eyes turning from blue to purple after six months of age, deepening further during puberty.


Other symptoms associated with Alexandria's genesis syndrome include perfect vision, light skin that cannot burn, dark brown hair, no body hair, women not menstruating but continuing to be fertile, having powerful immune systems, and having a well-balanced metabolism. Life expectancy is between 120 and 150 years.

Again, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. This myth is exactly that: a myth.

The fictional condition was invented in a Daria fanfiction story written by Cameron Aubernon in 1998, and the first mention of Alexandria's genesis as though it was a real condition has been traced back to 2005.

Is purple the rarest eye color?

Purple eyes are extremely rare, and while an exact number is difficult to come by, most sources say less than 1% of the world's population has red, purple or violet eyes.


Aside from purple or violet eyes, there are other eye colors that are pretty rare too.

Black eyes: Black eyes technically don't exist, but are rather extremely dark brown eyes that are hard to distinguish from the pupil.

Pink eyes: Pink eyes can come from albinism, where individuals lack pigmentation in the eye that allows for light to reflect off the blood vessels underneath the iris, which can cause the eyes to look pink. Only one in 20,000 have the condition that allows for the eye color.


Amber eyes: Amber eyes are often found in people of Asian, Spanish, South American, and South African descent. They are caused by having more pheomelanin in the eye than normal. Around 5% of the world's population has Amber eyes.

Gray eyes: Gray eyes are pretty rare themselves, with only around 3% of the world's population sporting them. Gray-eyed people have similar levels of melanin as blue-eyed people.

Green eyes: Green eyes are the result of the iris containing a pigment called lipochrome, and only a little melanin. Only around 2% of the world's population has green eyes.

RELATED: People With This Color Eyes Are More Prone To Alcoholism

Deauna Nunes is an associate editor who covers pop culture, lifestyle, love and relationships for YourTango. She's been published by Emerson College's literary magazine Generic.