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    The circles of prominence — revisited

    The circles of prominence is a familiar theory of beauty that speculates that the width of the iris serves as the perfect aesthetic distance and shapes within the face, including the eyes, nose ears and lips.

    “The iris width is the ideal length or distance for objects that are near this size,” Philip A. Young, M.D., tells Cosmetic Surgery Times. “For example, the nasal bridge and tip width, the distance from the bottom of nose to the upper lip, height of the lower lip, the eyebrow height and the size of the alae should all be one iris width.”

    Dr. Young, owner of Aesthetic Facial Plastic Surgery in Bellevue, Wash., is the author of a recent article in The American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery, which validates his supposition with a subjective survey to test these distances to find the ideal.

    The objective was to test if the iris width dictates five variables: 1. the aesthetic ideal distance between the eyelid margin and the bottom of the eyebrow; 2. the aesthetic ideal width of the nasal bridge and tip; 3. the aesthetic ideal height of the upper lip; 4. the aesthetic ideal height of the lower lip; and 5. the aesthetic ideal distance the ear extends from the side of the face.

    Related: Researchers define parameters of ideal lip shape

    Line drawings were created that were morphed into pictures. Questions with pictures were then presented to 190 participants.

    The survey results support that the ideal distance for all five variables are one iris width, as predicted by the circles of prominence theory.

    “However, the iris is not always circular,” Dr. Young points out.

    Dr. Young cited a 2002 study that measured 200 right-eye corneas and found an average HVID (a surrogate marker for corneal diameter) of 11.8 mm, with a range between 10.2 mm and 13.0 mm. “A total of 50% of the HVIDs fell between 11.6 mm and 12.0 mm, whereas 25% were smaller than 11.6 mm and 25% were greater than 12.0 mm,” he says.

    Dr. Young says the survey further bolsters the notion that beauty can be mathematically determined, rather than merely based on the eye of the beholder.


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