What causes widely spaced eyes and how to treat it?

Symptom Database

Widely spaced eyes, also known as large intercanthal distance or wide set eyes, refer to a condition where the eyes are set far apart, resulting in a wide spacing between them. This physical characteristic can vary in severity, with some individuals having a subtle difference in eye placement, while others have a more pronounced gap. While widely spaced eyes are generally considered a cosmetic concern rather than a medical issue, some individuals may experience self-esteem issues or seek treatment for aesthetic reasons. In this article, we will explore the causes of widely spaced eyes and discuss potential treatment options.

Causes of Widely Spaced Eyes

The distance between the eyes is primarily determined by genetics. It is influenced by various factors, including the shape and size of the skull, the position of the eye sockets, and the overall facial structure. Some common causes of widely spaced eyes include:

Genetic Factors

Genetics play a significant role in determining the intercanthal distance. Certain inherited conditions or syndromes can result in wide set eyes. For example, Down syndrome is known to be associated with widely spaced eyes, among other distinctive facial features.

Developmental Abnormalities

In some cases, widely spaced eyes can be attributed to developmental abnormalities during fetal development. These abnormalities can affect the growth and positioning of the eye sockets, leading to a larger intercanthal distance.

Medical Conditions

Some medical conditions can contribute to the appearance of widely spaced eyes. For instance, Marfan syndrome, a connective tissue disorder, can cause various physical characteristics, including a wide set of eyes. Additionally, certain craniofacial conditions or abnormalities may result in a larger gap between the eyes.

Treatment Options for Widely Spaced Eyes

While widely spaced eyes are primarily a cosmetic concern, individuals who are unhappy with their eye placement may seek treatment options to address their appearance. It is important to note that treatment options may vary depending on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. Here are some potential treatment options:

Non-Surgical Approaches

Non-surgical approaches are often the first line of treatment for individuals with widely spaced eyes. These approaches aim to enhance the appearance of the eyes without invasive procedures. Some non-surgical options include:

  • Makeup techniques: Strategic makeup application can create an illusion of closer-set eyes. Using darker shades on the outer corners of the eyes and lighter shades towards the inner corners can help visually minimize the gap.
  • Eyewear: Wearing glasses or sunglasses with frames that have a wider bridge can help visually reduce the appearance of widely spaced eyes.

Surgical Interventions

In cases where non-surgical approaches do not provide the desired results, surgical interventions may be considered. These procedures aim to physically alter the positioning or appearance of the eyes. Some surgical options include:

  • Canthoplasty: Canthoplasty is a surgical procedure that involves modifying the outer corner of the eyes to bring them closer together. This procedure can help reduce the intercanthal distance and create a more balanced eye placement.
  • Orbital reconstruction: In cases where widely spaced eyes are caused by developmental abnormalities or craniofacial conditions, orbital reconstruction surgery may be recommended. This procedure involves reshaping the eye sockets to improve the overall facial symmetry.

It is important to consult with a qualified medical professional, such as a plastic surgeon or ophthalmologist, to determine the most suitable treatment option based on individual circumstances.


Widely spaced eyes, characterized by a large intercanthal distance or wide set eyes, can be caused by genetic factors, developmental abnormalities, or certain medical conditions. While widely spaced eyes are generally considered a cosmetic concern, individuals who are unhappy with their eye placement may seek treatment options. Non-surgical approaches, such as makeup techniques and eyewear, can help enhance the appearance of widely spaced eyes. In more severe cases, surgical interventions like canthoplasty or orbital reconstruction may be considered. It is essential to consult with a medical professional to determine the most appropriate treatment option based on individual circumstances. Ultimately, the goal is to help individuals feel more confident and comfortable with their appearance.

Haroon Rashid, MD
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Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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