Sunken Eyes: Causes, Treatment, Home Remedies

What is Meant by Sunken Eyes?

Sunken eyes are a condition where the delicate skin under the eyes appears dark in color along with hollow and sunken in appearance.

All You Need To Know About Sunken Eyes

What Are The Other Names For Sunken Eyes?

Sunken eyes are also referred to as “under-eye hollows,” or “tear trough hollows.”

Is Sunken Eyes Something To Be Worried About?

Sunken eyes are quite a common condition and the usual cause of sunken eyes are aging, insufficient sleep, and dehydration. However, sunken eyes can also be an indication of an underlying health issue.

What Are The Symptoms Of Sunken Eyes?

A person begins to notice the appearance of sunken eyes with simply looking in the mirror. The appearance and degree of sunken eyes tends to vary from person to person. However, the common appearance or the symptom of sunken eyes is usually the following:

  • There is a hollowing seen under the eyes.
  • There is an appearance of a dark shadow on the lower eyelid.
  • Dark circles can be seen under the eyes.
  • The skin under the eyes appears very thin.
  • A person having sunken eyes has an overall fatigued or tired look to his/her face.

When Do Sunken Eyes First Appear?

As the common cause of sunken eyes is aging, many people will start to experience sunken eyes or dark circles in their late 30s or early 40s.

9 Causes of Sunken Eyes

There are many causes of sunken eyes, which are described below:

Aging: The Commonest Cause of Sunken Eyes

As a person ages, there is loss of fat and bone density in the bodies, which also includes our faces. There is also deterioration of the supporting structures of the body. With aging, there is loss of collagen from the skin resulting in a translucent and thinner skin; especially in the under eye area. All this aging process results in hollowing around the eyes, which is known as sunken eyes.

Insufficient Sleep: An Avoidable Cause of Sunken Eyes

Not getting enough sleep or poor-quality sleep has become as common as cold or flu today. Insomnia is the leading cause of sunken eyes in today’s hectic paced life. It is important to leave all your problems at night and get good sleep to keep sunken eyes or dark circles at bay.

Genetics: The Unavoidable Cause for Sunken Eyes

The manner in which you eyes are positioned in their socket depends on your genetics, which have an effect on sunken eyes. If there are other family members suffering from darkened or sunken eyes, then it means that your sunken eyes are hereditary.

Sunken Eyes as an After Effect of Extreme Weight Loss

When there is a dramatic weight loss in the body, there is loss of fat from the face also, resulting in blood vessels surrounding the eyes look more transparent and visible. This gives the appearance of sunken eyes.

Dehydration leading to Sunken Eyes

Not getting enough water also causes sunken eyes. Children who suffer from stomach infections and have diarrhea and vomiting suffer from dehydration, which leads to the appearance of sunken eyes. Do not ignore sunken eyes with diarrhea and vomiting, as this is an important sign of serious dehydration.

Sunken Eyes caused by Allergies

Allergies, such as allergic rhinitis, also cause dark circles under the eyes resulting in sunken look of the eyes. Sunken eyes caused by allergies are also known as “allergic shiners.” Having allergies also makes one want to rub their skin around the eyes, which furthers increases the dark circles and gives one sunken eyes.

Sunken Eyes Caused Due to Sun Exposure & Lack Of Sunscreen Use

Exposure to the sun leads to production of melanin, a pigment responsible for darkening of skin and also responsible for causing dark circles. A person already suffering from dark circles, when steps out in the sun without using any sunscreen, will experience worsening of sunken eyes or sun exposure can also lead to sunken eyes. Sun exposure causes increase in the sunken eye appearance.

Sunken Eyes Caused by Sinus Infections

Sinusitis or inflammation of the sinuses can also cause dark and sunken eyes. Other symptoms of sinusitis consist of pain, pressure and nasal congestion.

Smoking Can Also Cause Sunken Eyes

Yet another reason to ditch this vice, which is smoking, is that it also causes sunken eye appearance. Smoking leads to breakdown of collagen and loss of elasticity of the skin. All these effects of smoking results in sagging skin and appearance of sunken eyes.

Do You Need Medical Treatment For Sunken Eyes?

Even after you have made lifestyle changes, such as sleeping well, eating healthy, quitting smoking, drinking enough water and yet your sunken eyes persist or increase and are accompanied with other symptoms, then you need to seek medical treatment for sunken eyes.

Diagnosing the Cause of Sunken Eyes

Your doctor will conduct a medical exam and physical exam first to diagnose the cause of sunken eyes. The doctor will also ask questions regarding the duration of sunken eyes, the medications taken by you and evaluate other symptoms which you might be having to arrive at the cause of sunken eyes. You may also need to undergo some tests to determine the cause of sunken is eyes.

The Impact of Sunken Eyes on a Person’s Self-Esteem

Sunken eyes are commonly caused by aging and most often is not a cause for concern medically. The psychological effect of heaving sunken eyes or the appearance of sunken eyes is something else. A person having sunken eyes feels very negative about his/her self image and having sunken eyes badly affects one’s confidence level. Having sunken eyes gives one a tired appearance and triggers a lot of emotional and self-esteem issues. If a person is getting bothered because of sunken eyes to this extent, then this problem should be addressed, otherwise one can also fall a victim to anxiety or depression resulting from sunken eyes.

What is the Treatment of Sunken Eyes?

If the sunken eyes are caused by sinusitis or allergies, then proper medications and treatment will help in fading the sunken eye appearance. Over-the-counter allergy eye drops and antihistamines helps reduce symptoms of eye allergy. For sinusitis, antibiotics are prescribed.

Medical Procedures for Sunken Eyes

There are some surgical procedures (major, as well as minor), which can be undertaken to get rid of sunken eyes caused by aging.

Procedures like Dermal fillers such as Restylane, Juvederm and Perlane can be done to get rid of sunken eyes. These procedures involve injecting hyaluronic acid into the tissues below the eyes. These fillers are often painless and only take a few minutes to be done. But fillers are only a temporary treatment and do not last forever. They need to be re-done annually.

Cosmetic surgeries, such as blepharoplasty, brow-lifts, and face-lifts can also help in reducing the appearance of sunken eyes. These surgeries are more invasive than dermal fillers and also have a lengthier recovery time, but with long lasting results.

Are There Any Home Remedies to Get Rid of Sunken Eyes?

There are many lifestyle modifications and effective home remedies, which greatly help in improving the appearance of sunken eyes.

  • One of the best home remedy to get rid of sunken eyes is to follow a fixed sleep schedule and get good quality sleep.
  • It is important to follow a fixed sleep schedule and get good quality sleep to get rid of sunken eyes.
  • Always apply moisturizer and sunscreen before stepping out in the sun.
  • Placing moist, warm tea bags directly under the eyes is also an effective home remedy in getting rid of sunken eyes and eye puffiness. Tea is full of antioxidants and flavonoids and help increase the blood circulation to the eye area, which helps greatly in relieving sunken eyes.
  • Gentle application of almond oil on the under eye area helps improve the sunken eyes or dark circles naturally.
  • Placing slices of chilled cucumber on your eyes for 10 to 15 minutes also helps in getting rid of sunken eyes.
  • Application of cold compresses over the eyes is also a useful home remedy for resolving sunken eyes.
  • Along with sunscreen, also try wearing hats and sunglasses to protect your eyes and the delicate eye area when stepping out in the sun.
  • Always drink plenty of water daily to keep sunken eyes at bay.
  • Avoid draining too much caffeine.
  • Follow a healthy diet comprising of dark leafy green vegetables.
  • Quitting smoking is important if you are serious about getting rid of sunken eyes.

What is the Prognosis of Sunken Eyes?

Many a times, sunken eyes are not a cause of concern and are a harmless part of aging. The only concern from sunken eyes is how it impacts a person’s appearance and self-esteem. However, with the type of treatments available for sunken eyes, this can no longer be an issue and non-invasive procedures like dermal fillers are great for minimizing the appearance of sunken eyes.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 22, 2022

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