Sunken Eyes: Causes, Remedies, And Prevention Tips

Reviewed by Dr. Bhakti Kapse, General Physician
Written by Anjali Sayee

Do your eyes look hollow and deep-seated? Do you have dark circles? Are there any visible blood vessels under the eyelids? If yes, probably, you have sunken eyes. Multiple factors like age, exhaustion, dehydration, weight loss, and sleeplessness may cause sunken eyes. Do not worry. You can improve the appearance of your eyes with medical treatments and natural remedies. Keep reading to know more about managing and preventing sunken eyes.

What Are Sunken Eyes?

Sunken eyes are also known as tear trough hollows, skeletonized eyes, or enophthalmos. In this condition, the skin around your eyes appears sunken or pulled inwards. The eyeball recedes into the eye socket, making the eyes seem heavy, exhausted, and hollow (1).

It is a cosmetic problem that makes you look older with a slightly unnatural appearance. It is common in older people. However, younger people may develop sunken eyes due to trauma, surgery, weight loss, and more (1). The next section explores the causes of sunken eyes in detail.

Causes Of Sunken Eyes

  1. Aging: As you grow older, the orbital fatty tissues around the eyes decrease, making the skin around your eyes appear thin. This gives the eyes a hollow and sunken appearance (2).
  1. Trauma And Surgery: Sunken eyes are a very common after-effect of surgeries. Often, orbital (eye socket) fractures may cause deformities and sunken eyes (3). Facial surgeries around the eye area may also make the eyelids sink into the sockets.
  1. Sudden Weight Loss: Sudden and excessive weight loss (or fat loss) may cause the eyes to look a bit hollow and sunken. Weight loss often causes exhaustion and tiredness, enhancing the appearance of sunken eyes and dark circles. 
  1. Medication: Medications, such as glaucoma eye drops (prostaglandin analogs), may also cause sunken eyes (1). Children who undergo radiotherapy for rhabdomyosarcoma (a rare type of cancer) and retinoblastoma (retina cancer) may experience enophthalmos and loss of facial fat (4).
  1. Medical Conditions: Medical conditions like diarrhea may cause dehydration and vomiting and cause sunken eyes (5). Conditions like silent sinus syndrome, bone defects, and age-related fat atrophy may also cause sunken eyes (6).

Lipodystrophy syndromes, a group of heterogeneous diseases, are characterized by fat loss, leading to enophthalmos (4).

Underlying eye conditions and other syndromes and deformities may also cause sunken eyes. They include:

  • Deep‐seated eyeballs
  • Asymmetric position of the eyes
  • Deep superior sulcus (sunken upper eyelid)
  • Pseudoptosis (a defect causing drooping eyelids)
  • Eyelid retraction
  • Diplopia (double vision)
  • Dry eyes
  • Corneal desiccation leading to ulceration (corneal ulcers)
  • Linear scleroderma (loss of fat)
  • Parry-Romberg Syndrome
  • HIV

Sunken eyes can be seen in patients with metastatic breast cancer and congenital fibrosis.

  1. Genetics: Orbital asymmetry (asymmetrical socket position may be influenced by your genes. If sunken eyes run in your family, you may also have them.
  1. Sleeplessness And Exhaustion: If you are not getting enough sleep, dehydrated, or consuming less than your daily calorie intake, your body becomes exhausted. Sunken eyes are one of the signs of exhaustion.
  1. Excessive Sun Exposure: Excessive exposure to UV rays can damage and weaken the skin around the eyes, causing dark circles, wrinkles, and sunken eyes.
  1. Smoking: Smoking affects the skin and causes facial wrinkles, under-eye puffiness, and tear troughs. Studies suggest that long-term exposure to smoking can cause infraorbital fat pads (puffiness) and facial volume decrease like sunken eyes (7). It also increases the severity of crow’s feet, affecting the overall appearance of the eyes.
  1. Allergies: Allergic reactions may also affect the skin around the eyes, causing itchiness, redness, and sunken eyes.

The appearance of sunken eyes may vary from person to person. Here are a few symptoms you can look for to diagnose sunken eyes.

Symptoms Of Sunken Eyes

Some common symptoms include (4):

  • Hollowed eyes
  • Asymmetrical eyes
  • Dryness (dry eye)
  • Dark circles or shadow under the lower eyelids
  • Redness around or under the eyes (due to skin thinning)
  • Droopy upper eyelid
  • Visible blood vessels under the lower eyelids
  • Sunken upper eyelid
  • Overall tired and fatigued appearance

Unless your sunken eyes are caused by genetics or some other underlying eye condition, you may try natural remedies to improve your eyes’ appearance.

Home Remedies For Sunken Eyes

1. Coconut Oil For Sunken Eyes

You Will Need
  • 3-4 drops of extra virgin coconut oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Clean the under-eye area and massage it with the oil in circular motions.
  2. Leave it on overnight and wash it off the next morning.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this every night before going to bed.

Why This Works

Coconut oil contains fatty acids that can keep the skin moisturized and soft and accelerate skin healing (8). It enhances the skin barrier function and prevents UV damage (9). Virgin coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties and may soothe skin issues (10).

2. Castor Oil For Sunken Eyes

You Will Need
  • 2-3 drops of organic castor oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Massage the eye area with the oil for a few minutes.
  2. Leave it on overnight and wash it off the next day.
How Often You Should Do This

Follow this routine every night.

Why This Works

Castor oil is rich in antioxidants and is often used in skin creams. It contains ricinoleic acid that protects the skin and is often used to soothe skin issues like dermatitis (8), (11). Castor oil can hydrate and soothe the delicate skin around the eyes and improve its appearance.

Caution: Castor oil may cause allergic reactions. Do a patch test before using it.

3. Cucumber For Sunken Eyes

You Will Need
  • A few cucumber slices
What You Have To Do
  1. Refrigerate the cucumber slices for 10-1 5 minutes.
  2. Lie down and place the slices on your eyes and relax.
How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this a few times during the day.

Why This Works

Cucumber may help reduce eye puffiness and swelling. It soothes, nourishes, hydrates, and rejuvenates the skin. It has a cooling effect and may help improve the appearance of your droopy eyelids and dark circles (12), (13).

4. Olive Oil For Sunken Eyes

You Will Need
  • 3-4 drops of extra virgin olive oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Massage the eye area with the oil in circular motions.
  2. Leave it on overnight and wash it off the next day.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this every night.

Why This Works

Olive oil contains essential fatty acids that nourish, moisturize, and protect the skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce signs of aging, prevent UV damage, and improve the appearance of your sunken eyes (14) (15).

5. Fish Oil For Sunken Eyes

You Will Need
  • 2 fish oil capsules
What You Have To Do
  1. Squeeze the fish oil from the capsules.
  2. Apply it to your eye area and massage in circular motions.
  3. Leave it on overnight and rinse off the next day.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this every night.

Why This Works

Fish oil prevents photoaging. It contains polyunsaturated fatty acids, which may balance moisture content, preventing water loss, and improve skin barrier function. This may reduce the appearance of sunken eyes caused by UV damage and other external factors (16).

6. Almond Oil For Sunken Eyes

You Will Need
  • 2-3 drops of almond oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Apply the almond oil around your eyes.
  2. Massage with your fingertips in circular motions for a minute or two.
  3. Leave it on overnight.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once or twice every day.

Why This Works

Almond oil is extremely gentle on the skin. It has emollient and sclerosant properties to nourish the skin and improve the skin tone. Almond oil promotes skin renewal and is rich in vitamin E, fats, and proteins and keeps your skin protected (17), (18).

7. Vitamin K For Sunken Eyes

The intake of vitamin K (supplements or through foods) improves blood flow to the skin and helps lighten the dark under-eye area (19). Consume foods like broccoli, spinach, cabbage, carrots, strawberries, tomatoes, berries, potatoes, plums, and beans. However, talk to your doctor before taking vitamin K supplements.

8. Avocado Oil For Sunken Eyes

You Will Need
  • 2-3 drops of cold-pressed avocado oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Apply a few drops of the oil to the under-eye area.
  2. Massage gently in circular motions.
  3. Leave it on overnight.
How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this every day for a few weeks.

Why This Works

The essential fatty acids in avocado oil nourish the under-eye skin, enhance collagen production, and promote wound healing (20). This helps improve the appearance of the under-eye skin and keep it supple, healthy, and glowing.

9. Potato For Sunken Eyes

You Will Need
  • 2-4 slices of a raw potato
What You Have To Do
  1. Place the slices on your eyes.
  2. Leave them on for 20 to 30 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this process twice a day.

Why This Works

Potatoes are rich in vitamin K that reduces the appearance of sunken and tired eyes, enhances wound healing, and stimulates tissue regeneration (21). These properties may help reduce dark circles and scarring under the eyes. Potatoes may improve eyelid swelling and have anti-aging benefits.

10. Vaseline For Sunken Eyes

You Will Need
  • ½ teaspoon of Vaseline petroleum jelly
What You Have To Do
  1. Apply a thin layer of Vaseline around your eyes.
  2. Leave it on overnight and wash it off the next day.
How Often You Should Do This

Apply this every night before going to bed.

Why This Works

Vaseline petroleum jelly forms a protective shield on the skin and prevents moisture loss. It helps the skin retain moisture and may improve the appearance of the eye area.

You may try these remedies to protect the delicate skin around your eyes. However, be careful during application to prevent the ingredients from getting into your eyes. In the following sections, we have discussed some treatments and eye exercises you may try. Take a look.

Treatment For Sunken Eyes

The doctor may prescribe treatments and procedures to improve the appearance of your sunken eyes. They may include:

  • OTC antihistamines (if sunken eyes are due to an allergic reaction)
  • Eye drops
  • Fat grafting (1)
  • Fat transposition flap (a surgical procedure for sunken upper eyelids)
  • Derma filler injections (to give your eyes a fuller appearance)
  • Cosmetic surgeries

Here are some eye exercises that might help reduce sunken eyes.

Exercises To Reduce Sunken Eyes

  • Dancing Eyes: Keep your head straight and move your eye from the left to the center and the right. Now, move your eyes from the right to the center and the left. Do this about 10-15 times.
  • Eye Squeeze: Close your eyes and squeeze them for 5-10 seconds. Open your eyes and move them from the left to the center and the right. Repeat this 10 times.
  • Closed Eye Squeeze: Place your fingertips on the under-eye area. Tightly close your eyelids for about five seconds and then open them. Repeat this five to seven times.

The area around the eye is delicate and needs extra care. Here are a few tips for maintaining your eye area.

Maintenance Tips For Sunken Eyes

  1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Get eight hours of sleep. Consume a healthy and balanced diet and stay hydrated.
  2. Find ways to relieve stress. You can exercise, practice yoga, meditation, or Pilates, or try new hobbies.
  3. Maintain a skin care regimen. Apply moisturizer and under-eye creams to keep the area healthy, hydrated, and protected. Also, moisturize the skin before applying makeup.
  4. Always remove eye makeup before going to bed.
  5. Apply sunscreen to protect the skin around your eyes. Always wear sunglasses.
  6. Consume natural antioxidants through foods. You may apply green tea and cucumber to soothe and relieve the eyes.
  7. Avoid smoking to reduce any dark circles and maintain overall health.
  8. Massage the area around your eyes to improve blood circulation.

If all these remedies do not work, you might want to consult a doctor.

When Should You See A Doctor?

If the sunken eyes do not improve with home remedies and exercises, it is best to consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Sometimes, sunken eyes may be a symptom of other underlying conditions. The doctor may check your medical history and symptoms and ask for a few additional tests.

Conclusion

Sunken eyes may indicate exhaustion, aging, or an underlying condition. If it is due to fatigue and aging, follow the tips mentioned in the article to care for the delicate eye area. However, if it does not resolve after a few weeks, consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Recommended Articles

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

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Anjali Sayee is a writer and an introvert. From studying Aeronautical Engineering and wanting to design her own airplane to writing articles on hairstyles, she has been on quite a journey. She believes that hair is one of the key factors that define a woman’s personality. To quote her, “What’s the first thing they do in the movies to show a personality change? Change the hair – because it has a life of its own.” She’s here to help you find the hairstyle you need. This bookworm is a self-professed Wholocker, a talented drummer, and an amateur photographer.