Cupid Claims the Eyes Are the Windows to the Heart: An Eye Doctor Weighs-In

By: Mary Maloney

February is a busy time for Cupid. The Roman god of love works overtime around Valentine’s Day, when he inspires romance with the launch of an arrow from his trusty quiver. Since he’s an expert on love and passion, we wanted to ask Cupid to weigh in on his “eyes are the windows to the heart” theory and the science behind it.

We were unable to reach Cupid for comment, so we asked Key-Whitman Eye Center’s Mesquite eye doctor Kate Lee to set the record straight.


Question: Dr. Lee, is Cupid blowing smoke or is there truth behind his claims?

Dr. Lee: Research actually does support the theory that the eyes are the windows to the heart – or at a minimum, passion – and that research typically involves the pupils and dopamine (a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers).

When we see someone we find attractive, dopamine levels in the brain rise, which cause the pupils to dilate. This response is something we can’t control, and it can occur when we look at photos of attractive people or see someone in person.


Q: So if someone looks at me, and that person has dilated pupils, can I assume that he or she is attracted to me?

Dr. Lee: Possibly. You might even be more attracted to that person if their pupils are dilated compared to someone with smaller pupils. Legend has it that certain women used plant extracts to dilate their pupils before going to meet a gentleman they desired. So, Cupid’s theory goes way back.

Some people theorize that the ambiance of dimly lit restaurants fosters romantic feelings. Pupils dilate in dim lighting, so that theory may also be true.


Q: You met your husband online. Were you attracted to him because of his pupil size?

Dr. Lee: I don’t think I could discern his pupil size from his profile photos, but he has very warm eyes when he smiles, and you can see the smile in his eyes. I think eyes are very expressive, and you can interpret a smile just from someone’s eyes, even if you don’t see the mouth smiling.


Q: So what’s going on when two lovers gaze into one another’s eyes – is love in the air?

Dr. Lee: From a common sense point of view, it’s plausible that two people staring into each other’s eyes could increase attraction, because there is a sense of attentiveness between the two.

But, there is science to back up this theory, too. A study published in the Journal of Research in Personality revealed that singles who mutually gazed into each other’s eyes reported significantly higher feelings of attraction, passionate love, dispositional love and liking for their partner than pairs not sharing a mutual gaze. These findings may not show evidence of love, but they do suggest that mutual gazing may inspire a little passion.


Q: My eyes keep being drawn to the photo on my desk of People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, Blake Shelton. I can’t stop looking at him. Am I in love with Blake?

Dr. Lee: You could be showing signs of addiction, as opposed to being in love with Blake. When people look at photos of someone they are attracted to, dopamine is released in the brain, which makes them feel happy, elated or excited. Dopamine plays an integral role in addiction and repeated habits, so that’s probably why you can’t stop looking at Blake.


About the Doctor:

Kate Lee, M.D., received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville and completed her residency at Louisiana State University in New Orleans before moving to Texas. She specializes in cataract surgery with high-technology lens implants and is also proficient at treating glaucoma with laser therapy, correcting eyelid malpositioning, removing eyelid lesions and providing cosmetic Botox.® In her spare time, Dr. Lee enjoys jogging, cycling and traveling with her husband.

About the Author: 

Mary Maloney is a freelance writer and marketing consultant based in Dallas, Texas. She specializes in writing strategic marketing content that drives revenue for clients in the legal, financial, healthcare, wellness, manufacturing, event marketing, retail and M&A spaces. Contact  Mary on Twitter: @MKoskiMaloney or LinkedIn: