Eye whites

“Look in the mirror,” it begins You are all Sanpakua health card from 1965, written by macrobiotic advocate and anti-war Protestant George Osawa. There you see the whites of your eyes and, if you have sanpaku, the space between the iris and the lower eyelid. This white crescent indicates “serious physical and spiritual illness […] and extreme susceptibility to disease, accident, and tragic death.

After staring into their eyes (or pictures), he diagnosed many celebrities of the day, including Brigitte Bardot, J. Edgar Hoover, Ted Kennedy, Sid Caesar, Bette Davis and Jackie Gleason. All lived long lives, unlike alleged sanpaku John F. Kennedy, whose death Osawa predicted in a 1963 newspaper interview with Tom Wolfe for New York Herald Tribune.

Sanpaku Eye Theory

In Ohsawa’s sanpaku theory, the condition of the lower eyelid is called “yin sanpaku,” while “yang sanpaku” is less common and refers to space above the iris and internal disturbance. The most famous case of yang sanpaku is probably Charles Manson based on his 1969 cover. life magazine, although it looks less sanpaku in other photos.


The theory that it means “three whites” comes from Japanese face counting (physiognomy), where the oval face signals nobility. Hairy eyebrows indicate duplicity. A big mouth shows strength. And a turned-up nose goes with self-indulgence, according to this guide.

Sanpaku is back with a new list of celebrities who are said to be suffering – Billie Eilish, Diana Ross, Aubrey Plaza, Anya Taylor-Joy, James Spader, Giovanni Ribisi – mostly cases of yin, all still alive. Do they have anything to worry about? Probably not.

The Science of the Sanpaku Eyes

Yin sanpaku, also known as “scleral show” in medical terms, affects about half of people to some degree, according to 2020 survey which measured 123 volunteers who did not have eye disease. About 19 percent of the total had a more pronounced scleral show, a millimeter or more. This is almost as common as having blue eyes, dimples, or unibrows.

Causes of scleral show

The normal aging process can also cause the lower eyelid to droop and reveal more white, although this is not entirely harmless. Dryness may follow, and since it has no blood vessels of its own, the light-trapping cornea relies on tears and intraocular fluid in the eye for replenishment. With fewer of them, the curved structure is level greater risk of disease.

People with scleral expression are also more likely to catch debris in their eyes, and drooping eyelids are more likely to get tears or other damage. Conversely, damaged eyelids are more likely to develop a scleral show.

Other causes of Sanpaku eyes

Cosmetic eyelid surgery can do the same by damaging the muscles, although procedures have been developed to repair this. Also, an autoimmune disease affecting the thyroid gland, Grave’s disease, can cause the eye tissue to swell and protrude from the orbital bones, exposing the sclera.

But in most cases the explanation is much more banal. According to a 2020 papermost people with droopy lower eyelids are myopic, and since myopic eyes tend to be larger in diameter, the eyelids get less support, droop down, and you have sanpaku eyes.

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