Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Sanpaku eyes when in psychosis

Sanpaku eyes are when the whites of the eyes show below the iris. When my son was very ill I noticed this about him. His eyes looked kind of “rolled back” a bit and glazed over and the white underneath the iris was visible. This almost immediately went away once he became medicated and I had forgotten about it until today. He had a particularly symptomatic night and this morning his eyes looked this way. Has anyone noticed this when youroved one has been symptomatic? If not I know it sounds super weird.

I’ve seen my son and others with eyes that look like glass when they’re psychotic, is that what you mean? They’re not focused but have a very ‘glassy’ brilliance.
I noticed it the first time and then afterwards, might be the racing thoughts!?

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I have noticed this with my son as well. My daughter has also noticed this. When he is in psychosis. He is newly diagnosed. I was in denial for years. He is 30 and we are trying the meds.


@rosyd Look up images on Google. It can either be visible white on the top of the iris or the bottom, my son’s is on the bottom. It’s very unsettling.

@Charlies Did you only notice it only when he’s in psychosis? My son has been improving on medication for months now but seems to be having some setbacks lately. I keep having to remind myself that recovery isn’t going to be linear. I hope your son responds well to his medication.

This pic of Syd Barrett is the closest I could find to what I’m talking about. Ironically, I just learned that it is believed that he suffered from SZ. What’s weird about it is that my son’s eyes aren’t like that normally so it’s very strange seeing him like this.

I experienced this early on when ill. At the time, I’d just read about the effect and thought it was a desirable thing, and mentioned it to my mother. I later learned after seeing unmedicated sufferers that it looked unnatural. It’s more of a pop-eyed effect for me. I’ve also seen the look in people with Parkinsonism. It cleared up for me after taking typical neuroleptics for a while. These can have the opposite effect that makes your eyes droopy or half-closed.

Edit: a girlfriend of mine would call them, “runaway bride eyes” after the woman who was famous for running way before getting married. I believe this viral story inspired the movie. Those of you familiar with meme culture may remember the “overly attached girlfriend” meme, where a woman faked sanpuka eyes for a series of videos about a psychotic girlfriend.

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Now I see what you mean; I’ve seen them before also in a family member that was on drugs; this observation reminds of the phrase: ‘the eyes are the window to the soul’!
Are you able to talk to your son? I don’t, I don’t really know what to ask him and usually he asks questions like “how many people are happy in India? Where the tomatillos came from?” Or he makes statements like “that cat seems sad” I think most of the times he’s referring to himself and I know meds help him but since he’s resistant to them he’s focused and stuck in the past, every time she lands in the hospital he thinks he is there because his only problem is not having a job but never really gets around to look for one, he believes he has to have one that he really likes, he just doesn’t have the skills or what it takes to keep one.
I hope your son trust the psychiatrist and stays on the meds.
Thank you for letting me know about the sanpaku eyes.

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I do remember the runaway bride lady’s eyes! Seems like I’ve heard the wider eyes can also be related to thyroid issues in some cases. My son’s aren’t wide like that though. I think it’s more the rolled back appearance that’s bothersome to me. I’ve also wondered if maybe he has been smoking pot recently and that is a potential cause of not only the eye thing but his sudden increase in symptoms. In a way I would prefer that be the case rather than his medication not working. He’s on the haloperidol injection every 4 weeks but lately it seems like about a week or so after he gets his shot he has a period of breakthrough symptoms. I’ve suggested that maybe he needs to start getting it every 3 weeks instead they just raised the dosage which I’m not sure was the solution.

@rosyd I’ve wondered if he had recently smoked pot and if that causes it. He did hang out with some girl he met online the day before so it’s possible. He was a heavy pot smoker before and I suspect that is what triggered his SZ in the first place. I discouraged him from hanging out with someone he doesn’t know but he’s lost all his friends and recently his girlfriend so he literally has no one but us now. It breaks my heart to see him so lonely. He was very outgoing before.

When he was very ill he also would claim that his only problem was that he needed a job, it’s weird how so many with SZ have such similar tendencies. He rarely initiates conversations and usually gives shorter responses but doesn’t say anything out of the ordinary since being medicated. One thing though is he always wants to know where I’m going and asks to ride with me but waits in the car. A few years ago before SZ it would have been like pulling teeth to get him to ride with me somewhere so it actually makes me sad to see that difference. If I ever leave without telling him he is calling me before I’m down the road wanting to know where I’m going.

I pray you find something that will work for your son! Someone mentioned something about genetic testing to determine the rate of metabolism for certain medicines. That might be worth looking into.

Dear Cat_Nip, the similarities are remarkable; my son wasn’t outgoing bc I’d say he was molested by a 17 year old neighbor when my son was 11-12 but I wasn’t that sure it was what happened, I suspected it but it was affirmed when he was about 28 and he had just been discharged from the hospital, I wanted him to talk about it, I told him it wasn’t his fault but immediately he put the issue off by saying it didn’t bother him, I know it does but now he confuses the person and he believes his father is the abuser so my husband has to stay out of his sight most of the time, and one of the things he does is going with me to the store, most of the time he gets off the car to go inside with me, other times he waits in the car; I know he gets lonely, he has only one friend but since he doesn’t take the meds and his friend does sometimes this friend avoids him because he can get loud and lewd and his friend doesn’t want to be evicted from the low income housing.
My prayers go your way for you and your son also; I know there’s programs in our city to help them make friends and hang out but my son recluses a lot, more so without the meds.
Take care. :two_hearts: