Are “double-eyelids” inherited genetically?

The configuration of the lid crease, or the presence of a “double-eyelid”, is influenced by many factors. Many of these factors are inherited from your parents. Naturally, being Asian is a complete package of inherited genes. Which subgroup of Asian genes that makes you can make all the difference in your eye lid crease formation. For example, in Japan and Korea, it is estimated that 80% of adults are naturally of the “single-eyelid” configuration, whereas for the Chinese population, prevalence is closer to 50:50.

The appearance of the eyelid crease is influenced by many structures deep to the surface of the skin, all of which come from your parents. From deep at the level of the skull, the shape of the lateral orbital rim relative to the medial orbital rim determines the angle and width of the eyelids. The more anterior the lateral orbital rim (as in Asians), the sharper the angle of the outer corner of the open eye. The more posterior the lateral orbital rim (as in African Americans or Caucasians) the more rounded the shape of the outer canthus.

The height of the nasal bridge exerts vectored forces on the medial eyelid skin. In most people this bridge rises in early childhood and pulls the medial canthal skin towards the nose. Many children each year are brought in to see their pediatric ophthalmologist for crossing of the eyes. Quite often they are normal, and have what is called pseudo-esotropia. In most children growth of the nasal bridge needs to “catch-up” with the “excess” medial canthal skin. In many Asians however this bridge never further elevates even into adulthood. In these Asians there is inevitably a more prominent epicanthal fold which must be addressed if they choose to under-go “double-eyelid” surgery. It is my impression that this flatter nose configuration could be inherited as a single autosomal dominant gene, where half of the children might inherit it and half do not.

There are of course other tissue layers that significantly differ in patients with and without a “double-eyelid”. A fibrous band of tissue called the tarsus, creates the firm and straight edge of your eyelid margin and can be seen when you pull down your lower lid or flip your upper eyelid inside out. The height of the tarsus averages over 10mm in the upper eyelid in most non-Asians. In Asians however, the upper lid tarsus is slightly shorter averaging closer to 8mm. It is also indirectly from the upper edge of the tarsus where fine fibrous attachments (from the levator aponeurosis) penetrate the overlying orbicularis muscles to form a connection to the eyelid skin. A microstructure analysis of Chinese eyelids has found that these fibers are significantly stronger in patients born with the “double-eyelid” configuration than in patients who either gradually developed the crease or those who have the single eyelid configuration.

In Asians there is an additional layer of pretaral fat that lies below the orbicularis muscle with a lower insertion of the orbital septum, as well as a thicker layer of skin. This makes the pre-tarsal Asian eyelid significantly thicker than in non-Asians. (This thicker eyelid is believed to have evolved for the colder Northern Asian populations, to shield the eyes from cold, wind and glare off of snow.) It is the relative length and strength of the attachments between the skin to tarsus vs. the thickness of the surrounding eyelid tissues that ultimately determines whether on not a crease will form. This also explains why sometimes morning eyelid puffiness can induce a temporary crease which goes away later on in the day.

The bottom line is that the Asian lid crease formation is most certainly inherited, but precisely how is somewhat complicated. That said, I believe that the cumulative inherited features of the periocular anatomy of non-Asians will have a “dominant” effect on the formation of the “double-eyelid”. For parents planning to have Hapa children I would “bet-the-farm” on your child having the “double-eyelid” at birth.

One last observation is the similarity between the periocular anatomy of Asians and the Bushmen in Africa. Is this the result of a similar environmental pressures to protect the eyes in two distict populations or is there data in The Genographic Project that can show a more recent genetic link?

59 responses to “Are “double-eyelids” inherited genetically?

  1. wow, great explanation..i’m one of the few asians that are actually born with double eye lids…

    • Yeah I’m chinese and me and my brother were naturally born with double-lids

    • One of the few? The article says it’s 50:50 among Chinese, which makes it around a 700 million people in China alone, and another 40 million or so from Korea and Japan. Furthermore, most South-East Asians and South Asians have double eyelids, making it the majority among Asians. So, you’re not unique, even if Hollywood wants you to think so.

  2. do you know if having double eyelids is dominant or recessive?

  3. My fiance is white, and i’m chinese, with single eyelid. Will our children have double or single eyelids?

  4. Well, I’m hapa, and I have single eyelids. So you’ve just lost your “farm” so to speak. It’s strange too, because both my white mother, and Japanese father have the double eyelid, yet I don’t.

    Still, I never noticed the difference that much until people started making an issue about this single vs. double eyelid business.

  5. Both my parents have really noticeable double eyelids, while I don’t (I’m Chinese). I think my right eye was actually starting to develop a crease, but it stopped somehow. When I close my eyes, there’s a crease there…it’s so weird.

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  8. Awesome entry. More please!

  9. I think people should just be proud of who they are instead of wanting to be someone else. Asians are beautiful in their own way.

    The perception is all about media. The media want us to believe that western beauty is the ideal way.

    It is an inferior complex that have developed from living in such oppressed society. Racism, segregation.

    • Asians who want “double eyelids” are not wanting to be “white”. Like the article says and as I have personally seen, there are many asians that are born with a crease. The people who don’t have a crease and are wanting one just think that the crease that they see on asians is more appealing. They’re not wanting to be “white”. It has nothing to do with racism, western beauty, or wanting to be white. So I don’t get why you’re making the whole “asians are beautiful in their own way” statement. The crease is part of their “own way”.

  10. Double Eyelid dude

    Hm… I have double eyelids, which I have never even notticed until now. Nothing special about it. Physically, it has no advantage over single eyelids. This trait does not have any advantages over single eyelid trait. Single eyelid people are not going die out, because the sun shines in their eyes and they cant squint as good as double eye lid people. I just find it stupid how people are going to the extreme to get fake double eyelids. Just be happy with the person you are.

  11. hmm…so, double eyelids = beautiful? Do Koreans (some of them) likes to have double eyelids?

    • yes
      if you look at the difference in appearance from highschool/jr. high to college…its phenomenal
      unfortunantly we koreans are extremely vain and have turned to artifical beauty…there are very few korean singers/popstars without some plastic surgery

      I hope we can change XD

      • Not all Koreans have had plastic surgery. Actually, there are more people who haven’t had work done than those who have. Also, there are more and more people in the entertainment industry who have not had anything done. And they’re entertainers, so they’re probably a lot more self-conscious about their image than normal everyday people so they probably want to enhance their looks by even a little bit (even though a majority of them don’t really need it).. & a lot of non-asian celebrities have had nose jobs, breast augmentations, etc.

        Oh and pictures can’t really determine anything. My face looks pretty different when comparing jr high and high school pictures, but I’ve never had plastic surgery before… I actually had one double eyelid and one monolid but my monolid turned into a double eyelid when I was around 15/16? Which is what happened to my mother as well when she was that age… ^^

  12. My parents both have double eyelids, while I don’t. They both told me that they developed them later, but since I’m now 22, I figured I would be one of the people to never develop them.
    Except, I’ve recently begun to realize that my left eye will crease into a double eyelid, while my right side will not.

    Is this common among people who develop double eyelids? To get it at this age, and how long will it take for the other side to catch up?! I don’t want lopsided eyes.
    In fact, I was quite content with my single eyelids… darn genetics!

    • One of my parents has one monolid and one double eyelid, and it looks fine. I used to have it too, but it went away and now I’m just plain old single lided.

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  14. i guess it’s just a mutation on me since i have single eyelid while my parents and EVERYONE OF MY RELATIVES have deep double eyelids. makes me feel different but i’ll deal.

  15. Half Lid!! I have the exact same problem… Please post an answer this one eyed willy thing sucks!

  16. I just want to figure out whether all white guys are doulbe-eyelid? Is this 100% sure? What if half-blooded?

  17. really unfair
    in my case
    my grandma and grandpa, my mum and dad all have double eyelids but i have single eyelid !!
    so unfair !!

  18. I have double eyelid. If my husband has single eyelid, how many percentage of our children will have single eyelid?

  19. Wow!!!!
    I had no idea that other people had this same problem as me!

    I am a quarter chinese, and almost 3/4 caucasian, (theres a 1/8 native american but i dont know how to calculate fractions:S)

    I have single eyelids, however, infuriatingly,my left eyelid is often times DOUBLE! (I will wake up with either a double or a single eyelid on the left!)
    my right eye is consistantly single.

    I am so frusterated because of the lopsided look it gives me!

    what can explain this???

    Half Lid, what have you figured out in regards to this issue?

    (by the way, I am 20 years old, close age range to you.) I have not noticed my eyelids changing over the years, but they have always been this way.

    I am planning to get surgery on my left eyelid so that it can stay consistently single lidded to match the other eye.

    anyone have any advice or explanations?\\

    thank you!

  20. I look at my Spore Identity card photo taken when i was 15, no double eyelid. when i’m 23 i realize i have double eyelid. now 24, still no gf. Maybe i slept too much over the years that causes it to form. Once i woke up with 1 eye double eyelid, i have to stretch it till it doubles

  21. so glad that i’m viet
    because 80% Of viets have the crease, take that korea and japan and china

    • There’s nothing wrong with having monolids. Having a crease and not having one – they’re both nice. Stop making viets look bad by leaving frivolous comments.

  22. ChineseKoreanJapaneseDude

    um… thanks a lot VietDude -_-
    at least our countries are striving 🙂

    • Daniel Hoang Nguyen

      Viet Nam has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Did you also know that Samsung is shifting its main line of factories from China to Vietnam, where it is expected, in the near future, that 80% of Samsung phones will be constructed in Vietnam.
      Before the Vietnam War, Vietnam was probably one of the most civilized and advanced country in Asia – thanks to China. During the Mongol Invasions of Asia, Vietnam defeated the Mongolians 3 times – why couldn’t China or Korea defeat them? Vietnam’s terrain is basically the same as Southern China. Korea defeated the Mongolians twice but do you know how? Through the help of a Vietnamese crown prince from the Ly Dynasty – who escaped Vietnam to Korea.
      ‘Our countries’? Most Koreans would find it an insult to be called Chinese and Japanese; Most, if not all, Chinese hate Japanese because of the invasions. The one thing the Chinese have forgotten is Vietnam’s hatred for them. 1000 years (111BC-938AD, 1407AD -1428AD) of Chinese rule over Vietnam and over 30 invasions from China won’t be easily forgotten by the Vietnamese.

  23. ^ thats hilarious
    my whole family has it two, exept for me
    I wear glue right now
    but everyone tells me I look beautiful with or without it
    its a matter of confidence for me

  24. too*

  25. Single eyelids are cute, it makes you look younger. Also, it seems that only single eyelids can have those smiley eyes. I have double eyelids and I wish they were single-lidded so that I could have those smiley eyes lol.

  26. great essay but people in Northern Europe also have cold weather, how come their eyelids are not thicker in skin and single in order to protect them?

    • They do. Look up “northern european epicanthic fold” on google. The trait exists anywhere people have had to survive for generations among arctic chills. That’s why eskimos have “chinese” eyes too, as does Bjork of Iceland.

      In fact, if you compare arctic wolves and arctic foxes to their cousins further south, you’ll see that they have chinese eyes too! : D

      The trait would otherwise be referred to as arctic eyes if hollywood stopped generating an expectation for asians to have single-lidded eyes.

      Unfortunately its a vicious cycle and when casting directors hire asians, they want them to “look asian.” I have chinese friends in the industry that are constantly turned down for roles for “not looking asian enough” for the part.

  27. The next big thing
    A technique to crease the Chinese upper eyelid without surgery, stitches, Krazy glue or tape.
    Now foreigners cannot call us Chinky because we have the sexy look. Say goodbye to the sleepy look. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Let me show you how. I also use herbs. For more info :

  28. yeah i notice this too.. chinese has larger eyes with higher percentage of double eyelid than korean and japanese..but i find korean’s eyes the smallest

  29. Neat blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog jump out. Please let me know where you got your theme. Thanks a lot

  30. @lalalalala thats not true? 76.5% of Koreans age 20 to 30 have gone through surgery. Don’t belive me ? Look at the statistics. Most Korean entertainers all have been through surgery to make their eyes double-lids, taken shots on their nose to make their nose bridge longer, and gone under the knife to a more “flattering” nose. Most of the Korean entertainers have had somethings done, they just don’t come out about it. I really don’t know why almost all Koreans make such a big deal about the double-lid, like really who really cares? And some Asians get looked down-upon because of their single-lids and thats just total sad. I have single-lids but they are starting to turn to double because there is a crease forming, but I actually think my eyes were alright before. I think its really not about the double-lid. I really think its the Korean culture and media, some of my Koreans friends say that there family torment or push them to get plastic surgery for the eye because they have single-lids. And Korean media shows that going under the knife is perfectly normal, whenever its talked about a variety shows they laugh about it and some ever say they are GLAD they got plastic surgery like WTF?

  31. Japanese people who come from Jomon/ainu can have Doubleyelids. 50% of of Japanese come from Jomon the others come from Yayoi. A japanese guy told me this. Japanese are born Doubleyelid also.

  32. I’ve developed a home-made remedy to form a crease in the upper eyelid of Chinese people without surgery, stitches, tape or Krazy Glue. Anyone can do it at home. Let me show you how. A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Then foreigners cannot call us Chinky anymore. A Japanese doctor said, “I
    cringy when my picture comes up on TV.” He has slant eyes.

  33. I have double eye lid but unfortunately mines are too small because the fat from my crease goes fatter outterward. For example: There is no crease inwards of my eyes but instead the outter part of my eyelids show. Is this considered double eyelid? Great explanation btw 🙂

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  36. I just got a crease on my right eye today after the eye had been excreting a lot of pus due to a supposed infection. The crease has been on for 12 hours since morning and is making my right eye feel weird. I had the whole day to judge whether double or single eyelids look better just by staring at my face

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  38. I have one single eyelid and one double eyelid. Both of my parents have double eyelids. It sucks.. ;(

  39. I am blasian, and I have single eyelids, i really dont get why people care. I am fine being chinky.

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  42. Daniel Hoang Nguyen

    I’m Vietnamese and everyone in my family has single eyelids besides from a few of my cousins whose dad (not related) has relatively thin, but prominent, double eyelids. I guess they inherited from their father – one question, if the father has double eyelids and the mother has single; is it more likely that the children will have single or double? Vice-versa.

  43. In Vietnam we usually are proud of our double eyelid with majority number of people. Also our big toe is different from Chinese. the original vietnamese have their thumb toe touch each other, big forehead and they are really short

  44. I was certain that my son will have double eyelids as his father is Indian “DD genes” and I am Japanese “dd genes”. But nope he came out with monolids! Curly hair is also a dominant gene but again my son took my straight hair trait. So yep, I think this whole dominant and recessive genes stuff is not always true.

  45. I was born with double eye lids, big full lips, big eyes, just the right size nose and thick dark eyebrows never had any plastic surgery in my life … Asian people don’t even think I’m Asian.

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