Asymmetrical eyes: Causes, treatments and tips
Asymmetrical and uneven eyes
The terms “asymmetrical eyes” and "uneven eyes" typically refer to eyes that are different shapes, sizes or even colors. One eye may sit higher or lower than the other, open wider or narrower than the other, or sit further back in the eye socket.
A review of literature found that faces that seem too perfect — or too symmetrical — can actually make people feel uncomfortable. Thus, some degree of facial asymmetry may be preferable.
But in some cases, eyes that look different may be caused by an eye issue or health problem. If your eyes aren’t even, it’s important to have your eyes examined by a doctor to determine the cause for their asymmetric appearance and determine whether treatment is needed.
What causes eye asymmetry?
Many people with eye asymmetry were simply born with uneven facial features. For many, it isn't a problem or anything that needs to be fixed. They may even embrace the features that make their face unique.
But sometimes, eye asymmetry isn’t just an aesthetic issue. It can be caused by an eye or health problem that may require medical treatment. Possible causes of uneven eyes include:
Bell's palsy – A temporary paralysis of the facial nerve, Bell's palsy can cause one side of the face to droop. The condition can make it difficult to close the affected eye or move the eyebrow on one side of the face, causing the appearance of eye asymmetry. Bell's palsy is not life-threatening and most people (about 85%) recover fully within a few months.
Stroke –Though it can present with facial paralysis symptoms similar to Bell’s palsy, a stroke is a medical emergency. If you have symptoms of a stroke, including sudden vision loss, call 911.
Blepharochalasis – Swollen eyelids (blepharochalasis) may be caused by allergies, infections or injuries. This condition can occur on the upper or lower eyelid and can happen in both eyes (bilateral) or just one eye (unilateral), causing the appearance of asymmetry.
Enophthalmos – A sunken eye (enophthalmos) may be caused by getting hit in the eye, having a car accident or sustaining other trauma to the eye. It may also be caused by cancer, HIV or problems with the sinuses. One sunken eye can result in a look of unevenness between the two eyes.
Heterochromia – In some cases, heterochromia is a hereditary condition that causes a person to be born with two different-colored eyes. It may also be caused by an underlying illness or injury. Heterochromia is a rare condition, affecting about one in every 1,600 people.
Ptosis – A condition that causes droopy eyelids, ptosis can occur in just one eye (unilateral ptosis), causing the eyes to look different from each other. It can also occur in both eyes (bilateral ptosis). Ptosis may be caused by aging, a nerve or muscle problem, or a growth on the eye.
Exophthalmos – Bulging eyes (exophthalmos) are most commonly caused by hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease, both of which are linked to thyroid eye disease (TED). Injuries, cancers, infections and tumors can also lead to bulging eyes. If one eye appears bigger than the other, the eyes may look asymmetrical.
An eye doctor can diagnose and treat eye conditions that cause periocular asymmetry (lack of symmetry around the eyeballs). In some cases, these treatments can give the eyes a more symmetrical appearance.
How to fix asymmetrical eyes
If you've noticed a drastic difference or sudden change in your eye symmetry, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor right away. But if you've always had an eye that looks a little different from the other, you may be seeking tips on how to cosmetically fix asymmetrical eyes.
Uneven eyes are unique to every person, so there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Here are four ways to address the uneven look of asymmetrical eyes:
Makeup for asymmetrical eyes – You can use makeup techniques to create the illusion of eye symmetry. Eye makeup for uneven eyes may be able to make an eye look bigger or smaller, or higher or lower.
Botox for asymmetric eyes – Depending on the issue, an eye doctor may be able to use injections of Botox around the eye to fix uneven eyes. Botulinum toxin may also be an option for correcting asymmetrical brows that give the eyes an uneven look.
Surgery for asymmetrical eyes – In some cases, surgery may be a good option to correct or minimize eye asymmetry. The type of surgery will depend on the specific eye issue. For example: An eyelid lift (blepharoplasty) may be done on the upper or lower eyelid to correct the effects of ptosis. Surgery may also be used to treat a sunken eye.
Topical eye drops for droopy eyelids – Ask your doctor about Upneeq, a topical eye drop that is FDA-approved for treating asymmetrical eyelid position resulting from acquired ptosis.
Are you hoping a special eye exercise will correct your uneven eyes? While there are numerous exercise techniques that claim to fix asymmetrical eyes, there's a lack of evidence that these eye exercises work.
READ MORE: Do eye exercises work for droopy eyelids?
Makeup techniques for uneven eyes
Specialized makeup techniques can help make uneven eyes look more symmetrical. You can use makeup to make a smaller eye look bigger or make a lower eye look higher on the face.
Makeup artist Sharon Farrell has a sunken eye due to sinus issues, which causes her eyes to appear uneven. She shares the following tips for getting a more symmetrical look:
If you have a sunken eye, use dark eyeshadow in the crease of your non-sunken eye to create a more pronounced crease to match the other eye. Blend the dark shadow using a tapered eyeshadow brush.
Next, add (less) eyeshadow to the crease of your sunken eye, but use a lighter touch to account for the more pronounced natural crease. This will make the eyes look more even.
Line both lower lids with a medium shade of the eyeshadow used in the creases, drawing it outward to the corners and upward to connect it to the crease of each eye.
Choose a darker medium shade of eyeshadow for your eyelids and blend well. Avoid a lighter shade as it will draw attention to the differing amounts of space on each eyelid.
Go back with a very dark shade of the same color eyeshadow, using a very small brush to define the crease on the non-sunken eye even more. Blend a little of this darker color in a triangle shape along the outside corner of your eye.
Use a fluffy brush to add the same very dark shadow to the outside corner of the sunken eye so the eyes match. But don't define the crease on the sunken eye.
Apply eyeliner to the upper lids of both eyes. You can apply a "wing" of eyeliner and blend it for a smoky look.
You can watch Farrell’s tutorial video here if you want to see a makeup artist apply this technique to her own uneven eyes.
Celebrities with asymmetrical eyes
There are many celebrities with uneven or asymmetrical eyes. Here are some of the most notable:
Paris Hilton – Paris Hilton grew up with the nickname "Star" and has been stealing the spotlight ever since. The actress and heiress got her start on the reality show "The Simple Life" and quickly skyrocketed to fame. Hilton has asymmetrical eyes due to amblyopia (lazy eye) in her left eye. This disorder usually occurs in one eye and can affect vision.
Kat Graham – The "Vampire Diaries" actress has facial asymmetry in which her left eye sits noticeably higher than her right eye. Many fans think this asymmetry is a big part of her unique look. Graham tends to take photos with her head tilted to one side, which makes the asymmetry less obvious.
Mila Kunis – The actress who got her start on "That 70s Show" and starred in movies such as "Black Swan" and "Bad Moms" has two different-colored eyes due to iritis. A chronic inflammation of the iris, iritis affected Kunis’ vision in one eye before she had surgery to replace the lens. Her left eye is green and her right eye is hazel.
Shannen Doherty – The actress who got famous for her role in "Beverly Hills, 90210" has an asymmetrical face and eyes. In fact, Doherty’s left eye sits noticeably higher than her right eye.
Thom Yorke – The Radiohead singer was born with his left eye closed due to problems with his eye muscles. He later had surgery to correct eye drooping on that side, but his left eye still looks different from his right. Yorke has stated in an interview that he now likes how his eye looks.
Some celebrities have sought out "asymmetrical eye surgery" from a cosmetic surgeon to try to make their eyes look more even. Plenty of others, though, have embraced their uneven eyes as part of their unique look.
See your eye doctor for uneven eyes
It's important to get regular eye exams for good eye health. While slightly asymmetrical eyes are common, uneven eyes can be a sign of an underlying eye or medical condition.
If you have asymmetrical eyes, your eye doctor can perform an eye exam to help determine the cause and outline your treatment options.
READ NEXT: Eyelid surgery: What it is, how much it costs, what the risks are
Discriminative thresholds in facial asymmetry: A review of the literature. Aesthetic Surgery Journal. April 2017.
Eye asymmetry. Taban MD Oculoplastic Surgery. Accessed February 2022.
First prescription fix for droopy eyelid. American Academy of Ophthalmology. September 2020.
Mila Kunis. Biography. June 2020.
39 celebrities with different-colored eyes. Good Housekeeping. April 2021.
Shannen Doherty. IMDB. Accessed February 2022.
Thom Yorke discusses 'very difficult period' after death of longtime partner Rachel Owen. Billboard. September 2019.
Page published on Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Medically reviewed on Monday, January 17, 2022