Sunken Eyes No More: Unveiling Causes & Effective Fixes

Written by Aaron Guldager — April 01, 2024

Sunken Eyes No More: Unveiling Causes & Effective Fixes

Aging can lead to changes to your eyes, including thinning skin, dark circles under your eyes, and dark shadows over your eyes, creating a hollow look. If this sounds familiar, you might have “sunken eyes.”

Sigh. It’s always painful to find a new sign of aging, and in this case, you might have your parents to blame. Often directly related to the position of your eye sockets inherited via genetics, sunken eyes make you look older and more tired. They can also be difficult to camouflage with basic makeup, adding to your woes.

But don’t let sunken eyes get you down. This article will explore the impact sunken eyes have on your appearance, what might be causing them, and, best of all, effective fixes to help overcome their impact on how you look and feel.


Understanding Sunken Eyes Causes

While genetics increase your chances of getting sunken eyes, there are other factors at play, including:

  1. Age-related volume loss: Aging causes fat and bone density loss that impacts the shape of our faces. Add to that lost collagen and diminishing fat pads, and the youthful appearance around the eyes really starts to break down.
  2. Dehydration: Water helps keep skin plump, so it maintains a more youthful, healthier appearance. If you aren’t getting enough water, dehydration can contribute to that tell-tale volume loss that accents signs of aging.
  3. Allergies and sinus issues: Another less expected factor is suffering from congestion, whether you’re sick, have allergies or other sinus issues. Inflammation in the sinuses can contribute to puffy eyes and shadowing that marks the look of sunken eyes.
  4. Sleep deprivation: Of course, we all know how a lack of sleep and constantly feeling tired can lead to those dreaded under-eye circles. As a result, poor sleep is a major factor when it comes to accentuating those deep, dark circles common with sunken eyes.
  5. Nutritional deficiencies: A less-than-healthy diet can also accent sunken eyes as you need enough vitamins and minerals for skin health. That includes vitamins A, C, D, and E, zinc, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  6. Medical conditions: Issues such as chronic sinus infections, dramatic weight loss, unhealthy habits such as smoking, conditions such as Horner’s or thyroid diseases and trauma via facial injuries can also cause sunken eyes. If you feel your sunken eyes are dramatically changing your appearance and could be related to illness, it’s important to speak to your doctor to rule out possible medical causes.

Is it Sunken Eyes?

You might mistake other common signs of aging, inflammation, and fatigue as sunken eyes. However, the main notable difference between simple dark circles under your eyes and sunken eyes is dark shadows that appear above the eyes, not just under them. Also, ask yourself whether signs of sunken eyes have appeared suddenly and if illness, allergies, weight loss, or fatigue could temporarily cause the hollow appearance and dark circles.


Solutions for Sunken Eyes

Although genetics can’t be changed (as the saying goes, you can’t choose your family), there are some solutions that can help reduce the appearance of sunken eyes, starting with lifestyle changes. Here’s how to fix sunken eyes.

Get more sleep

Improving your sleep habits, or “sleep hygiene” makes a world of difference to your appearance. Some tips to help you get a better night’s sleep include:

  • Set a bedtime that ensures you get seven hours of sleep and stick to it seven days a week.
  • Create an ideal sleeping environment, by using blackout curtains, setting your thermostat to a comfortable temperature, and blocking out noise.
  • Avoid using your cell phone, computer, or TV before bed.
  • Don’t eat too close to bedtime, especially large meals.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
  • Increase exercise during the day.

Stay hydrated

Hydration is key to skin health. Try to drink 11 cups of water a day to stay hydrated and enjoy healthy snacks that also contribute to hydration, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid caffeinated beverages and sugary drinks, as these don’t help with hydration and can even lead to sunken eyes and dehydration.

Enjoy a healthier diet

Including more collagen-boosting nutrients and essential vitamins in your diet is important, including:

  • Fatty fish like salmon for omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and zinc.
  • Avocados for fats and vitamins E and C, as well as to promote collagen.
  • Walnuts for essential fats, zinc, vitamin E, selenium, and protein.
  • Sunflower seeds for nutrients such as vitamin E and antioxidants needed for skin health.
  • Sweet potatoes for beta carotene to help protect against sun damage.
  • Red or yellow bell peppers for beta carotene and vitamin C to protect against sun damage and create collagen.
  • Broccoli for vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids, as well as sulforaphane to help with collagen production.
  • Tomatoes for vitamin C and carotenoids, including lycopene, to prevent thinning and wrinkling.
  • Soy for isoflavones to improve collagen, skin elasticity, and skin dryness.
  • Dark chocolate for antioxidants that can improve skin thickness and texture.
  • Green tea for catechins to improve skin hydration, thickness, and elasticity.
  • Red grapes for resveratrol to slow the skin aging process.


Sun protection

It’s no secret that the sun has damaging UV rays that can lead to premature aging, pigmentation issues, uneven skin appearance, reduced elasticity and, in the worst case, cancer. Wearing sunscreen every day and donning a fashionable hat and sunglasses when you plan to be in the sun for prolonged periods all help combat sun damage that can contribute to sunken eyes.

Reduce stress

Easier said than done, reducing stress can help reduce the appearance of sunken eyes, not to mention those troubling frown lines. Because stress can cause sleepless nights, it’s important to find ways to help manage stress, whether it’s meditation, yoga, spending time with loved ones, getting more exercise or practicing mindfulness.

Quit smoking

Smoking takes away nutrients and oxygen needed for collagen production and natural skin maintenance, contributing to the appearance of sunken eyes. Of course, there are far more pressing reasons to quit smoking than improving the appearance of sunken eyes! However, this is a major step in improving overall health and stopping the degradation of collagen and elastin that takes away from your youthful glow.

Improved skincare regime

Taking better care of your skin can also greatly improve your appearance, including:

  1. Moisturizers: If you aren’t already using a specific moisturizer for your eyes, finding an eye cream with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, retinol, or peptides can help reduce the signs of aging, including thinning skin, bags, and wrinkles.
  2. Cold compresses: This pleasing addition to your skincare regimen is not just relaxing but also helps reduce puffy eyes. A great hack is to put two spoons in the fridge and place them on your eyes until they reach body temperature. You can also use cooled, steeped tea bags for cold compresses.
  3. Hydrate: SiO Beauty patches draw moisture up from the lower levels of skin into the outside layer, leaving skin plump and hydrated for youthful eyes.
  4. Facial massage: Facial massage promotes lymphatic drainage to help reduce puffiness. It is easy to apply using the palms of your hands. Start at your forehead and apply gentle pressure to stretch your skin, moving down towards your neck. When you reach your eyes, switch to your fingers using a gentle rolling movement.
  5. Topical fillers: If you find you aren’t seeing the results you’d like, you can also speak to a dermatologist about the professional options available like hyaluronic acid fillers.


Advanced Solutions

When sunken eyes really impact how you feel about your appearance, there are more advanced solutions available. However, these options require consultation with a qualified professional and often include downtime following treatments. Advanced solutions include:

  • Laser treatments: Treatments such as fractional CO2 lasers to deliver microscopic columns of energy to the deep layers of the skin help produce collagen and elastin and reduce dark pigmentation around the eyes.
  • Microneedling: Microneedling helps restore volume loss under the eyes to plump and smooth out the skin and restore diminished fatty pads. However, it uses tiny pinpricks to create small wounds to increase collagen and elastin, which can be quite uncomfortable in the tender eye area.
  • Surgery: In extreme cases where you have excessive loose skin, sagging, or bags, you might consider consulting with a plastic surgeon to discuss surgical procedures such as lower blepharoplasty surgery, fat grafting and brow lifts.

These solutions are far more drastic and should really be your last resort when lifestyle changes and home treatments fail.

If your sunken eyes are troubling, speak to your healthcare professional for personalized advice and to help rule out health conditions. Understanding the underlying causes of sunken eyes is your secret weapon to help prevent or reduce their appearance.

If you already have sunken eyes, using these tips can go a long way in improving your appearance while reaping the benefits of healthy lifestyle changes and an improved skincare regimen. More than anything else, remember you can help maintain a more youthful, healthier appearance by empowering yourself with healthier choices and avoiding bad habits like poor sleep, smoking, and unhealthy diets.