If you wonder whether you have deep-set eyes, this may be a question associated with fashion choices, like makeup or glasses shape. (Learn More) It is rare for deep-set eyes to impact your ability to see clearly, as it is one of many eye shapes. (Learn More)

There are a few genetic and hormonal conditions that are associated with deep-set eyes. If you did not have deep-set eyes but suddenly have them, there may be something else changing in your body. (Learn More) For the most part, however, deep-set eyes are one potential eye shape out of many. (Learn More)

eye shapes

What Are Deep-Set Eyes?

For most people, having deep-set eyes is simply an eye shape. Their eyes look larger and are set deeper in the eye socket, which creates the illusion of a more prominent brow bone.

In the average adult, this eye shape may only impact how they apply makeup, if at all. It is rare that deep-set eyes will impact other aspects of life.

In some instances, deep-set eyes can indicate another, often genetic, medical condition.

Many people who have deep-set eyes want to find ways to brighten their eyes or make them look bigger and less shadowed. Their eye shape will not impact whether they need corrective lenses like glasses or contacts, and it will not impact their risk of eye diseases.

How to Tell if You Have Deep-Set Eyes

If you wonder what your eye shape may be and if you have deep-set eyes, here are some steps to determine what your natural eye shape is:

  1. Find a mirror to study your eyes in. Natural light works better, but as long as you can see well in artificial light, this is enough. Mirrors that magnify your face, so you can see your eyes close-up, might work better for your purposes.
  2. Determine if your eyelid has a crease. If the upper eyelid is smooth, you have a monolid, which is considered a basic eye shape.
  3. Look at the outer corners of your eyes and imagine a straight, horizontal line extending from the outer corner to your pupil. If the line is above your pupil, you have upturned eyes, and if the line is below your pupil, you have downturned eyes, both of which are considered basic eye shapes.
  4. Close one eye and look at the crease on the eyelid. Then, open your eye and determine if this crease is hidden underneath the upper part of the brow bone. If it is, your eyes are hooded, which is another basic eye shape.
  5. Look at the whites of your eyes in relation to your iris. If you have white showing above and below your iris, your eyes are round, and if you have eyelids covering the whites around the iris, then your eyes are almond-shaped. Both are basic eye shapes.
  6. Look at the space across the bridge of your nose, and estimate the space between that area and the inside corner of each eye. If this is more than the width of one of your eyes, you have wide-set eyes, and if it is less than your one eye-width, you have close-set eyes.
  7. If your upper eyelid appears short and small, the crease is visible, and you have less white visible, you are likely to have deep-set eyes. The opposite is bulging eyes, which appear much larger than the eye socket

People who have deep-set eyes may have larger “bags” under their eyes or more wrinkles. They may look tired more often or look like they are squinting.

There are some conditions that may have deep-set eyes as a symptom. While it is not the best method for judging overall health risk, developing deep-set eyes could indicate another issue. Sometimes, it is associated with genetic conditions.

Medical Conditions That Cause Deep-Set Eyes

albino baby

Deep-set eyes can be an indicator or symptom of some medical conditions.

  • Acromegaly: This is a hormonal disorder that leads the pituitary gland to produce too much growth hormone during puberty and into adulthood. This causes the bones to increase in size, including those of the feet, hands, and face. The condition mostly affects middle-aged adults. It can lead to the sudden appearance of having deep-set eyes because the facial bones grow larger. Impaired vision and vision loss are also associated with acromegaly, but these may be caused by pituitary tumors pressing on the eyes.
  • Sanjad-Sakati syndrome: This is a recessive genetic condition most often found in people of Middle Eastern origin, first described in Saudi Arabia. The condition is associated with slow growth or physical retardation, intellectual disability, hypoparathyroidism leading to nutritional deficiencies, and dysmorphism. Part of the dysmorphism is deep-set, small eyes; however, other aspects of the condition are easily identified and diagnosed during infancy, including smaller facial features and poor immune system. Nutritional deficiency could lead to poor vision. This is not caused by having deep-set eyes.
  • SHORT syndrome: This condition’s acronym stands for Short stature, Hyperextensibility, Hernia, Ocular depression, Rieger anomaly, and Teething delay. These are the main features of the disorder. Someone with SHORT syndrome has low birth weight and gains weight slowly over childhood, leading to shorter stature. They have a lack of fatty tissue under the skin, which presents mostly in the face, arms, and chest, and this can lead to the appearance of deep-set eyes. Their teeth erupt later so teething begins in later childhood. They have Rieger anomaly, which can lead to glaucoma later in life.

There are some other chromosomal or hormonal conditions that may impact how the eyes look in the face, but this one feature is rarely used to diagnose these conditions. Additionally, having deep-set eyes is not associated with vision loss, although it is an effect of some conditions that also can cause vision loss.

Deep-Set Eyes Are Just One Eye Shape

If you have deep-set eyes, this may change your approach to applying makeup on your eyelids or around your face. You may be more cautious of how you apply mascara to your upper eyelashes since they may hit your brow bone and smear.

For most people, this is simply how their face is shaped. It has nothing to do with vision problems, increased risk of vision distortion, or vision loss.

References

What’s Your Eye Shape? (March 19, 2012). Beautylish.

How to Determine Eye Shape. (March 29, 2019). wikiHow.

Acromegaly. (January 18, 2019). Mayo Clinic.

Sanjad Sakati Syndrome: A Case Series From Jordan. (2012). World Health Organization (WHO).

Short Stature, Hyperextensibility, Hernia, Ocular Depression, Rieger Anomaly, and Teething Delay. (December 2013). Genetics Home Reference, National Library of Medicine (NLM).