10 things to know about epicanthal fold

10 Facts about Epicanthic fold,Epicanthal Fold or Epicanthus

Epicanthic fold, epicanthal fold, epicanthus is the fold of upper skin over the eye lid that is from one end of the eye to the other. It is a physical feature but generally associated with race as it is found mostly on Asian. This fold can be seen on some people from Native America and sometimes even on Europeans. It is a distinguishing characteristic that also has its name as ‘Asian Eyes’.

Epicanthal folds are considered ‘Asian’ and there is a lot of racism that can follow the fold. The western beauty standard also considers epicanthic fold unpleasant and round eyes beautiful. Due to this, it has given rise to a lot of face alteration among Asians.

Some of the interesting facts about epicanthic fold are:


Its origin according to classics

Well, as per the classic explanation for the fold, it was developed in tropical regions to protect from UV rays or in Arctic regions as insulation from the cold.  But this doesn’t explain how it emerged and was maintained among Asian populations.


Are there any other explanation?


Well, yes. Some scientists also think that the epicanthic fold may have been a tool for vision to the people residing in or near the Mongolian desert as it gave protection from either glare or airborne sand particles. It may be something like minimal brow ridges which is present in some populations because brow ridges also help to protect the eyes. Epicanthic folds didn’t make any significant difference to the lives of those who have them, others believe it was simply a neutral adaptation that was passed on and perhaps proliferated due to sexual selection pressures.


Who has epicanthic fold?


Epicanthic fold can be mostly seen on Asians.  It can be East Asians, Southeast Asians or Central Asians. Not just Asian, it can be seen on Indigenous Americans, the Khoisan, Madagascar, and occasionally in Europeans like Scandinavians, Hungarians, Samis, Irish and Poles and among Nilotes.


Mongoloid and Epicanthic fold


Is epicanthic fold just because of genetics? Well, no. Epicanthic fold can also be because of some developmental disorders such as Down’s syndrome. For this reason, in the early 20th century, children affected by such disorders were called “Mongoloid” because it formed an epicanthic fold in their eyes like the Mongolians. But this term was also used to discriminate Asians by Caucasians.



Well, epicanthic fold may be genetics, but for Caucasians, it’s not good. Epicanthic fold has been named ‘Asian Eyes’ that generalize them and it’s something that is not considered good. There are prejudices with Asians who have epicanthic fold. In 1941 Life Magazine infamously published “How To Tell Japs From the Chinese” which clearly stated about epicanthic fold.


‘Asian eye’ not beautiful?

The standard of beauty has been standardized to western beauty where epicanthic fold or ‘Asian Eyes’ are not considered beautiful but considered unpleasant. The round eyes with perfect eyelashes are considered beautiful which genetically, the Asian are not gifted with. This is all because of the Western beauty standards that has been followed.


If not genetically born with round eyes then…


A number of Asian women have taken aid of surgery to get rid of their epicanthic fold.  The surgery is called Blepharoplasty. It is a type of cosmetic surgery where the skin around the eye is reshaped to create an upper eyelid with a crease. According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), in 2010 blepharoplasty was the third most common procedure performed world-wide. Some surgeons consider surgery dangerous to which they have an alternative of ‘eyelid paste’ that helps to get rid of epicanthic fold temporarily.


Korea the cosmetic surgery hub


Korea is the country where alarming rates of plastic surgery takes place. It has been culturally accepted surgical alteration that they perform on themselves.1 in 5 women in Korea has had some form of cosmetic surgery compared to 1 in 20 women in the U.S. Korea is now famous for medical tourism, and has maintained itself as a hub for all sorts of cosmetic surgery many of which centrally revolve around Western standards of beauty.


Can disappear with age


All the fetuses have epicanthic fold no matter the race. Asian born or not, babies when born can have epicanthic fold that will disappear with age. It is to protect the eye of the baby.



Having an epicanthal fold is a part of an identity. The Asians can be stereotyped with having an epicanthic fold but it is their identity nevertheless.

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