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Why do people have different eye shapes? © Getty Images

Why do people have different eye shapes?

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Asked by: Ian Silberzweig, via email

The main difference in eye shape is the way the upper eyelid meets the inner corner of the eye. In many ethnicities, including East Asians, Southeast Asians, Polynesians and Native Americans, there is commonly a slight fold at this point, called an ‘epicanthic fold’.


This is caused by fat deposits under the skin, and one theory is that it evolved to protect the eye against the cold, or against the stronger ultraviolet light found in snowy and desert environments.

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Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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