Health and Fitness

Do Europeans Have Epicanthic Folds?

Epicanthic folds, sometimes referred to as epicanthal folds, are the skin folds of the upper eyelid that cover the inner corner (medial canthus) of the eye. They are most commonly found in people of East Asian descent, giving rise to the term “Asian eyes.” However, epicanthic folds also occur in some individuals of non-Asian ancestry. This has led to an ongoing debate around whether epicanthic folds are found among Europeans.

What Are Epicanthic Folds?

What Are Epicanthic Folds?

The epicanthic fold is a fold of skin covering the inner corner of the eye, between the eyelid and the nose. It creates the effect of having a single eyelid crease, as opposed to a double eyelid with an upper and lower crease.

Epicanthic folds come in different shapes and sizes. In some cases, the fold may be barely noticeable. In others, it may extend across the entire eyelid, from the inner to the outer corner of the eye. The height and shape of the epicanthic fold can vary significantly between individuals. 

Read also: Why do asians have slanted eyes?

Why Do Epicanthic Folds Form?

The development of epicanthic folds is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Research indicates that epicanthic folds are associated with certain genetic variations, particularly among East Asians. However, other factors can also contribute to their formation.

One theory is that epicanthic folds develop to protect the eyes. By covering the inner corners, they may shield the eyes from harsh winds, bright sunlight, or foreign particles. Epicanthic folds may also help moisten the surface of the eye by restricting tear drainage.

During embryonic development, nasal and maxillary swellings contribute to the formation of epicanthic folds. For East Asians, flatter nose bridges combined with wider faces may increase the prominence of the skin folds around the inner eye.

Are Epicanthic Folds Unique to Asians?

While epicanthic folds are a common trait among East Asians and some South Asians, they are not exclusive to these populations. Epicanthic folds can occasionally occur in Europeans, Africans, and others of non-Asian descent.

Several factors influence the presence of epicanthic folds:

  • Genetics: Certain genetic variants associated with epicanthic folds are found at higher frequencies in Asia but also occur globally. Mixed Asian ancestry may contribute to epicanthic folds in non-Asians.
  • Facial structure: Wider, flatter facial structures can make epicanthic folds more prominent regardless of ethnicity.
  • Environment: Epicanthic folds may develop as an environmentally induced trait to protect the eyes from particulates or glare.
  • Conditions: Some medical conditions, such as Down syndrome, can cause epicanthic folds to form in people of any ethnicity.

So while epicanthic folds are largely associated with East Asians, they are not an exclusively Asian trait. A small percentage of Europeans and others worldwide do naturally possess epicanthic folds.

Epicanthic Folds Throughout Europe

Epicanthic Folds Throughout Europe

The prevalence of epicanthic folds among Europeans depends greatly on geographic region and local ancestral origins.

Certain populations in Northern, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe appear more likely to exhibit epicanthic folds, though exact statistics are limited. Russia has a particular concentration of individuals displaying the trait.

Here is an overview of regions where epicanthic folds occur in Europe:

Northern Europe

Epicanthic folds appear in low to moderate frequency among Sami indigenous populations of northern Scandinavia and Russia. Some theories suggest this may be an environmentally induced adaptation to freezing Arctic climes.

Eastern Europe

In Eastern European nations like Poland and Latvia, epicanthic folds occur in a small percentage of the general population. Russia has one of the highest rates in Europe, perhaps due to historical mixing with Central and East Asian populations over centuries.

Southeastern Europe

Some Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Montenegrin, Albanian, Greek, and Turkish people have epicanthic folds, typically with lower inner eyelid creases. This may be related to admixture from East Asian nomadic tribes.

Western Europe

Epicanthic folds are rarest among Northwestern and Central European nations like Britain, France, Germany, and Spain. But they can still occasionally occur, often due to mixed ancestries.

Causes of Epicanthic Folds in Europeans

There are a few potential causes that can produce epicanthic folds in people of European heritage:

Mixed Asian Ancestry

Having partial Asian ancestry can lead to epicanthic folds. Central Asian invasions of Eastern Europe over millennia likely introduced some East Asian admixture. More recently, European immigration policies have increased populations of mixed Asian and European descent.

Genetic Mutations

Rare genetic mutations may disrupt normal facial development. Changes to certain genes involved in embryogenesis, like PAX6, can cause epicanthic folds to form. These mutations arise randomly and are not specific to any one ethnic group.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical syndromes, such as Down syndrome or fetal alcohol syndrome, can alter facial features including the eyes. The structural changes may incidentally produce epicanthic folds in babies of European background who have these conditions.

Climate Adaptations

Some anthropologists believe epicanthic folds arose in northern indigenous European populations as an evolutionary adaptation to freezing, windy climates that could dry out the eyes. The folds may have protected the eyes from damage.


Atavism is the reappearance of a lost ancestral trait after several generations. Some researchers hypothesize epicanthic folds in modern Europeans could be cases of atavism to a distant East Asian ancestor long ago. However, definitive proof remains elusive.

Are Epicanthic Folds Dominant or Recessive?

Whether epicanthic folds are a dominant or recessive genetic trait remains unclear. Most experts believe multiple genes contribute to epicanthic folds. The effect of each gene can range from partially dominant to recessive.

Having one or two parents with epicanthic folds seems to increase the chances a child will inherit the trait through dominant or codominant inheritance. But someone with no family history can still have epicanthic folds due to recessive genes.

Ultimately, epicanthic folds arise from a complex interplay between genetic tendencies and developmental environment. Two European parents with perfectly round eyes can potentially have a baby with epicanthic folds. More research is needed to fully understand the genetic basis.

Does Eye Shape Correlate With Personality?

Does Eye Shape Correlate With Personality?

There is no scientific evidence linking eye shape to personality traits. Epicanthic folds are simply physical facial features subject to genetic and developmental influences. They do not determine a person’s character, intellect, or behaviors.

However, some people persist in making faulty assumptions based on eye shape. East Asians with epicanthic folds are sometimes viewed as more passive, humble, or mysterious compared to Western Europeans with round “double eyelids.” But personality is shaped by individual life experiences, not physical appearance.

No personality assessments can be accurately deduced from simply having epicanthic folds versus double eyelids. Such notions rely on subjective perceptions, not objective facts. All humans display diverse dispositions regardless of eye shape.

Epicanthic Folds: A Normal Human Variation

Epicanthic folds occur in Europeans at lower rates than East Asians, but remain a normal anatomical variant seen worldwide. They do not necessitate partial Asian ancestry in Europeans, though admixture can contribute. Epicanthic folds also arise from genetic mutations, developmental conditions, and cold climate adaptations.

The key is not to equate epicanthic folds solely with East Asian identity. They represent natural human diversity, not any inherent differences between ethnic groups. With greater global integration, epicanthic folds will likely become even more commonplace across Europe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are epicanthic folds more common in Northern or Southern Europeans?

A: Epicanthic folds occur more frequently in Northern Europeans, particularly indigenous populations adapted to cold, Arctic climates like the Sami. They are less common in Southern Europe.

Q: What percentage of Europeans have epicanthic folds?

A: There are no precise statistics, but estimates suggest 1-10% of Europeans have some degree of epicanthic folding. Epicanthic folds are most prevalent in Russia at around 10% frequency.

Q: Can epicanthic folds form later in life for Europeans?

A: Epicanthic folds typically develop in the womb or infancy. It is very rare for epicanthic folds to form in European adults with no childhood history, but minor changes with age are possible.

Q: Do epicanthic folds affect eyesight?

A: Epicanthic folds have no direct impact on visual acuity or eye health. They only influence the cosmetic appearance of the eyes for Europeans who have them.

Q: Can epicanthic folds be surgically corrected?

A: Yes, epicanthic folds can be surgically altered to create a double eyelid crease. However, this is generally done for cosmetic reasons rather than medical necessity.


Epicanthic folds are most prevalent in East Asians but are not exclusive to any one ethnic group. A minority of Europeans naturally possess epicanthic folds due to genetic factors, ancestral mixing with Asians, developmental conditions, and climate adaptations. Epicanthic folds represent normal human anatomical diversity, not ethnic differences in personality or character. As global integration continues, epicanthic folds may become increasingly common across Europe. When learning how to put eyeliner, it’s important to understand that everyone’s eye shape is unique, and techniques should be adapted to individual features for a fast and perfect application.

Aaliyah Dana

She enjoys writing about the lifestyle and all things related to the world. She is also an avid gamer who enjoys playing games on his PS4. Aaliyah has been writing for over 5 years and has had articles published on such sites as Forbes, The Huffington Post, Mashable, and more.

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