The study findings were published in the February issue of the journal Ophthalmology.
The eye region makes up just 21 percent of the face, according to the study authors. So why does it seem to reveal so much?
"There is a lot going on around the eyes," Rubin said. For one thing, eyelids are the thinnest skin on the body, making swelling more prominent. Also, he said, the eye region undergoes many changes during aging and suffers from significant sun damage.
"Beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder," Rubin said. "It's also in the eye of the beholdee."
Timothy J. Slattery, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at the University of California, San Diego, said the study findings reflect those of other research that has found that people fixate on the eyes when they look at photos of faces.
But the study does not prove that the eye region is the most important when it comes to judgments about age and fatigue, said Slattery, who tracks how the eye moves.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has more about plastic surgery.
SOURCES: Peter A. D. Rubin, M.D., plastic surgeon, Brookline, Mass., and associate professor of ophthalmology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tenn.; Timothy J. Slattery, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in psychology, University of California, San Diego; February 2009, Ophthalmology
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