Updated on  February 21, 2024
4 min read

What Causes Purple Eyes and Do They Really Exist?

8 sources cited
Vision Center is funded by our readers. We may earn commissions if you purchase something via one of our links.

Have you ever met someone with unusually beautiful eyes, perhaps one with deep violet or even lavender-colored eyes? It’s possible this person was wearing contact lenses. However, there’s also a chance they have naturally purple eyes. 

This syndrome that certain gene mutation causes is unique. It has also captivated the science and medical communities.

This blog post provides a detailed explanation of purple eye syndrome. It also explores how it works biologically in terms of genetics and pigmentations, potential side effects or risks, and more.

Alexandria’s Genesis & Purple (Violet) Eyes

Alexandria’s Genesis is an online myth that states a genetic mutation involving purple eyes turns people into perfect beings. 

The claimed benefits of this mutation include: 

  • Fair skin with no body hair
  • Perfectly-proportioned limbs
  • The absence of menstruation or bodily waste
  • Slower aging
  • A lifespan of 150 years

While fictional, other natural conditions can cause eyes to appear purple or violet. The purple eye color mutation is a real phenomenon that occurs in humans, although it’s rare.

Are Purple Eyes Rare?

True purple eyes are exceedingly rare. Less than 1% of the world’s population has them, making them rarer than blue eyes, brown eyes, hazel eyes, amber eyes, grey eyes, or green eyes.

What Conditions Can Make Eyes Purple?

Different levels of melanin in the iris determine eye color. Because melanin is a brown pigment, people with more melanin tend to have darker skin, hair, and eyes. All eye colors besides brown are due to an absence of melanin rather than any specific pigment. 

When light hits the iris, this lack of melanin causes light to split into a color spectrum. Depending on how much melanin is there, eyes can appear green, hazel, blue, or purple.

Some eyes appear purple rather than blue due to the additional factor of light reflecting off red blood vessels. 

Do Natural Violet Eyes Exist?

Yes. Although uncommon, you can naturally inherit these enchanting hues due to genetic mutations, internal eye inflammation, or albinism.

Genetic Mutations

One mutation that causes natural purple eyes is called the FOXC2 gene.

A gene on chromosome 15 produces melanin, which helps determine skin and eye color. This gene can alter due to mutations and produce less pigment, causing the eyes to take on a bluish-purple hue.

The same mutation can also cause lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome. Symptoms include swelling of the limbs, double eyelashes, and heart problems.

Internal Eye Inflammation

Uveitis is another natural cause of purple eyes. This condition occurs when the uvea—a layer within the eye—becomes inflamed. 

The inflammation leads to light sensitivity, pain, and blurred vision. In some cases, it can change the color of the eyes, causing them to look more violet or purple than usual.


Albinism is also linked to purple eyes. This condition affects your skin, hair, and eye color due to a lack of melanin. 

You may have one or two genes that contain albino mutations, which can result in eye colors ranging from light blue to dark violet. 

What are Purple Eye’s Potential Side Effects and Risks?

Purple eyes can come with potential side effects or risks. For instance, if you have uveitis, the inflammation can damage delicate parts of your eye and worsen over time. In rare instances, it may even cause vision loss.

If the condition is genetic, no known health risks are associated with purple eyes. However, the same mutation may cause other issues, such as lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome.

People with lighter eyes are also more vulnerable to eye melanoma, also known as ocular melanoma. Complications from eye melanoma can include glaucoma, vision loss, and spread of the cancer to other parts of the body.

Did Elizabeth Taylor Really Have Purple Eyes?

Elizabeth Taylor 1
Elizabeth Taylor 2

This is a popular myth. Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes appeared purple in some photos due to lighting, makeup, and clothing. Her eyes were actually blue, which you can see in most of her photos.

What is the Cultural Significance of Purple Eyes?

Throughout history, purple eyes have been synonymous with royalty or the divine. 

Ancient Romans revered the color as a symbol of wealth and luxury, and the Native Americans believed it to be a sign of protection from evil.

In later centuries, people often considered purple eyes to indicate that the gods blessed their bearer. It also signified spiritual awareness.

Purple eyes continue to captivate people worldwide, likely due to its rarity. Those with violet eyes are “mysterious and alluring.” Some even consider them a symbol of strength and intelligence, qualities that set them apart.

Final Thoughts

Purple eyes are ultra-rare and captivating traits that people can possess. While the condition is commonly due to genetic mutations, internal inflammation or albinism can also cause it.

Purple eyes come with potential side effects and risks, regardless of how the unique hue develops. It’s essential to be aware of these complications and to seek medical attention if needed.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that purple eyes don’t mean you’re a ‘perfect being,’ as Alexandria’s Genesis myth suggests. They simply infuse your gaze with an enchanting beauty all its own.

Updated on  February 21, 2024
8 sources cited
Updated on  February 21, 2024
  1. Is Eye Color Genetic? | What Your Eye Color Has to Do With Your History.” Luna, 2019.
  2. Eye melanoma.” Mayo Clinic, 2022.
  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine. “FOXC2 forkhead box C2 [ Homo sapiens (human) ]” National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2023.
  4. Tavian et al. “FOXC2 Disease Mutations Identified in Lymphedema Distichiasis Patients Impair Transcriptional Activity and Cell Proliferation” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2020.
  5. Pike, N. “13 Dazzling Scenes That Prove Elizabeth Taylor’s Own Jewels Were Her Greatest Co-Stars.” British Vogue, 2021.
  6. Ghosh, D. “The World’s Population By Eye Color.”World Atlas, 2023.
  7. Kumar, K. “Do Purple Eyes Exist?” MedicineNet, 2021.
  8. Purple Eyes: Myths and Facts.” Blindness Test, 2021.
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.