Hazel eyes are generally a combination of brown, green, and gold. Sometimes, blue or even amber can make an appearance in hazel eyes, too. Often, hazel-colored eyes have a different hue around the pupil than on the eye’s outer rim. This gradient of color can give hazel eyes a “sunburst” effect.

In this article, we’ll go over the finer points of what this eye color can look like. We’ll also discuss what causes hazel eyes.

What Do Hazel Eyes Look Like?

Because the appearance of hazel eyes can vary widely from person to person, the color can be difficult to define. For instance, some hazel eyes look more green at a distance (some people might refer to them as hazel-green eyes). Others might look more brown (hazel-brown eyes). But what makes hazel eyes special is their mixture of colors that’s especially noticeable up close. 

Let’s look at what sets hazel eyes apart from their green and brown counterparts.

Hazel vs. Green Eyes

Side-by-side comparison of hazel versus green eye colors

People with hazel eyes are sometimes mistaken for having green eyes. But if you look closely, you’ll see a difference. 

Green eyes tend to have a mostly solid green color throughout the iris (the colored part of the eye). Hazel eyes, on the other hand, are multicolored. For instance, if you have green eyes with brown or gold flecks or a gradient of green, brown, and gold, then you have hazel eyes.

Hazel vs. Brown Eyes

Side-by-side comparison of hazel versus brown eye colors

Like with green and hazel, the difference between hazel and brown eyes can sometimes be hard to see. Hazel eyes might appear light brown from a distance. But closer inspection of hazel eyes shows flecks or bands of another color as well. Brown eyes, on the other hand, are brown throughout the entire iris.

Do Hazel Eyes Change Color?

Hazel eyes don’t actually change color. But, they might appear to change color depending on the environment. For instance, hazel eyes might look different depending on the light. 

Like other colors, their appearance can also be influenced by the color of your clothes or makeup. (Has anyone ever told you that wearing a certain color makes your eyes “pop”?) 

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Speaking of making your eyes pop…

Whatever color eyes you have, you can highlight them with eye-catching glasses or let them shine on their own with contacts.

How Rare Are Hazel Eyes?

Hazel eyes aren’t the rarest eye color, but they certainly aren’t the most common either. According to a 2014 survey conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, around 18% of Americans have hazel eyes

What Causes Hazel Eyes?

As with other eye colors, a hazel eye color boils down to genetics and the amount of melanin in your eyes. 

Melanin is a substance that produces pigmentation in your body. It helps determine skin color, hair color, and eye color. Your genes influence the amount of melanin in your iris, which determines your eye color. 

The more melanin in the iris, the darker your eyes will appear. For instance, brown eyes have a lot of melanin, but blue and green eyes have less. Hazel and amber eyes have a medium amount of melanin.

In most eye colors, the melanin amount is consistent across the entire iris. But in hazel eyes, different amounts of melanin can exist in different parts of the iris. This is why some areas of hazel eyes can appear brown, while others might seem green, blue, or amber.

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Love the look of hazel?

Try on a new hue with colored contacts. But to get any contact lenses—colored or not—you’ll need a prescription from an eye doctor.

Take Care of Your Eyes (No Matter Their Color)!

Remember, whether your eyes are hazel, blue, or violet, it’s important to keep them healthy with regular eye exams

Have you had an eye exam lately? If not, consider booking an exam with some expert optometrists we happen to know.

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