AIMS To describe the effects of sex and age on eyeball, eyelid, and eyebrow position.
METHODS A cross sectional cohort study was performed in which both eyes of 320 normal subjects aged between 10 and 89 years were included. Of each 10 year age cohort, there were 20 men and 20 women. Frontal, as well as lateral, slides were taken of both eyes. On projected slides, a reference line through the medial canthi and vertical lines through the pupil centre and the lateral canthus were constructed. Using these lines, we measured the size of the horizontal eyelid fissure, the distance from the reference line to the pupil centre and to the lateral canthus, the distance between the pupil centre and the upper and lower eyelid margin, and the distance between the upper eyelid margin and the skin fold and eyebrow. On lateral slides, the distance between the lateral canthus and the anterior corneal surface was measured.
RESULTS Between the ages of approximately 12 and 25 years, the horizontal eyelid fissure lengthened 3 mm, while the position of other eyelid structures remained virtually unchanged. Between the average ages of 35 and 85 years, the horizontal eyelid fissure gradually shortened again by about 2.5 mm. Meanwhile, the distance between the lateral canthal angle and the anterior corneal surface decreased almost 1.5 mm. Aging caused an increase of the distance between the pupil centre and the lower eyelid of about 1 mm in men, and 0.5 mm in women. Aging also caused a higher skin crease and raised eyebrows in men and women, but it did not affect the position of the pupil centre and the lateral canthus. Men showed an 0.7 mm larger horizontal eyelid fissure than women. In women, however, the eyebrows were situated about 2.5 mm higher than in men.
CONCLUSION Aging mainly affects the size of the horizontal eyelid fissure, which lengthens by about 10% between the ages of 12 and 25, and shortens by almost the same amount between middle age and old age. Aging causes sagging of the lower eyelid, especially in men, and a higher skin fold and eyebrow position in both sexes. Aging does not affect the position of the eyeball proper, or of the lateral canthus.
- eyelid anatomy
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