Updated on  February 20, 2024
4 min read

Bipolar Eyes – Is it Possible to See Mania in the Eyes?

11 sources cited
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Mania (manic episode) is a psychological state characterized by extreme mood, behavioral, and energy changes.

Manic eyes appear sparkling or change color, shape, and gaze depending on the type of mania. Others might notice these changes, although proper diagnosis is required to confirm the condition.

There are two types of mania:

  1. Euphoric mania (energized good mood)
  2. Dysphoric mania (energized bad mood)

Bipolar Disorder and Mania

The most common cause of mania is bipolar disorder (BP), previously known as manic depression.1 This condition is characterized by episodes of mood changes, including emotional highs and lows. 

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not known, but scientists associate it with the following:

  • Genetics (family history)
  • Environmental factors
  • Changes in brain chemistry
  • Some medical conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome and asthma3

What are ‘Bipolar Eyes?’

A few studies suggest that bipolar disorder can affect pupil dilation and gaze.5 These changes occur during episodes of mania. This is what is known as bipolar eyes or ‘manic eyes.’

Can You See Bipolar Disorder in Someone’s Eyes?

You can’t easily identify bipolar disorder by looking at someone’s eyes. Although some studies show bipolar disorder can make your eyes change in certain ways, so do other emotional episodes not connected with this condition.4 

If you want to know if a loved one has bipolar disorder, a doctor’s opinion is more reliable.

Claimed Characteristics of Manic Eyes

There are claims that manic eyes may have the following characteristics. However, they need to be sufficiently proven by research: 

1. Sparkling Eyes

This sign is often associated with euphoric manic episodes⁠—feeling energized, elated, or overjoyed. In this case, the eyes appear more ‘sparkly’ than usual. More research is needed to determine if any structural changes are involved. 

2. Darker Eyes

Adrenaline rushes occur when you’re excited, angry, or emotionally charged, and they cause pupil dilation. When the pupils dilate and take over the eye, it may appear darker than usual.

3. Change of Eye Shape

During a euphoric manic episode, eyes may appear bright and open, whereas dysphoric mania narrows them. According to research, dysphoric mania makes people more mean and suspicious, making them narrow/squint their eyes. 

4. Change in Eye Color

Some people report changes in eye color during manic episodes. For example, normal blue eyes may turn brown during a dysphoric manic episode. However, no credible research supports these claims.

How Does Bipolar Disorder Affect the Eyes?

There’s some evidence that bipolar disorder affects eye movement and visual processing:

Eye Movements

A 2019 study found that bipolar people tend to make errors in vergence eye movements.6 Vergence (binocular) eye movements enable the eye to align with the object you’re looking at. 

Researchers identify irregular saccadic eye movements as a common sign of BP. Saccadic eye movements are rapid, involuntary shifts in eye gaze, typically toward a focus target. These actions occur involuntarily, although they can be deliberate. 

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), some people living with BP have a slower reaction time for both saccadic and anti-saccadic eye movements (movements away from the object of interest).7

Overall, people who have lived with bipolar disorder for a longer time will show more irregularities in eye movement.

Visual Processing

Recent imaging studies have pointed to a significant disruption in visual processing among people with bipolar disorder. The studies suggest visual disruptions commonly occur during manic episodes or bipolar depression.8

A 2010 study found that people with a genetic risk of developing bipolar disorder have a lower response to light.9 

Another pilot study investigating the color discrimination thresholds in type 1 BP identified a possible link between the disorder and color vision processing.10 

With euphoric mania, colors become vivid and may seem to be in motion. In contrast, dysphoric mania causes vision to constrict, resulting in angry-looking eyes that hardly notice color. More research is required for insights into these findings.

Other Physical Signs of Bipolar Disorder

Someone with BP may experience the following manic symptoms: 

  • Feeling full of energy or overjoyed (euphoric mania)
  • Feeling self-important
  • Lack of sleep
  • Lack of appetite
  • Racing thoughts and ideas
  • Rapid talking
  • Being easily irritated
  • Energized bad mood (dysphoric mania)
  • Poor decision making
  • Impulsive behavior and finding oneself in risky situations
  • Illogical thinking or false perceptions

A manic episode can last about a week or even months, depending on how you manage it. Those who follow a treatment plan recover quicker.


  • Manic eyes appear sparkling or change color and gaze depending on the type of mania.
  • The most common cause of mania is bipolar disorder (BP). It’s characterized by emotional highs and lows.
  • You can’t easily identify bipolar disorder by looking at someone’s eyes. 
  • However, some studies show that bipolar disorder affects eye movement and visual processing.
  • Other physical clues of bipolar disorder include feeling full of energy, being easily irritated, lack of sleep, impulsivity, etc.
Updated on  February 20, 2024
11 sources cited
Updated on  February 20, 2024
  1. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “Bipolar Disorder.” www.nimh.nih.gov, 2022.
  2. Kerner B. “Genetics of bipolar disorder.” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) 2014.
  3. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). “Myths and Facts of Bipolar Disorder.” www.nami.org. 2021.
  4. Elena et al., “Visual Function And Retinal Changes In Patients With Bipolar Disorder.” Ophthalmic Communications Society, 2021.
  5. Berchio et al., “Dysfunctional gaze processing in bipolar disorder.”  National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2017.  
  6. Chrobak et al., “Vergence eye movements in bipolar disorder.” Psychiatria Polska, 2019.
  7. Bittencourt et al., “Saccadic eye movement applications for psychiatric disorders.” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2013. 
  8.  Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. “Brain Imaging Suggests Visual Processing Is Disrupted in People with Bipolar Disorder.” www.bbrfoundation.org, 2018.
  9. Hébert et al., “Retinal response to light in young nonaffected offspring at high genetic risk of neuropsychiatric brain disorders.” Biological Psychiatry, 2021.
  10. Fernandes et al., “Colour discrimination thresholds in type 1 Bipolar Disorder: A pilot study.” Scientific Reports, 2017.
  11. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “Bipolar Disorder.” www.nimh.nih.gov.
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.