Sunken Eyes: Causes, Remedies, And Prevention Tips

Don't sink your hopes with your eyes; try home remedies to manage the issue instead.

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Bhakti Kapse, MBBS
By Anjali Sayee

If you have dark circles under your eyes and can see blood vessels visible beneath the eyelids, you most likely have sunken eyes. Sunken eyes can be caused by a

variety of factors, including age, tiredness, dehydration, loss of weight, and lack of sleep. If you are looking for sunken eye remedies, don’t sweat it! A variety of treatments can help you improve the look of your eyes. Keep reading to learn more about how to treat sunken eyes.

What Are Sunken Eyes?

What are sunken eyes

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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

Aging causes sunken eyes

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  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 crows 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

Woman placing cucumber on eyes to treat sunken eyes

Shutterstock

1. Coconut Oil For Sunken Eyes

You Will Need
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).

Stylecraze Says
You can substitute cucumber slices with cucumber juice. Dilute the juice with some water and dip a cotton pad in it. Apply it under your eyes and leave for 10 minutes.

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.

Stylecraze Says
You can substitute potato slices with potato juice. Dip a cotton pad in the juice and dab it under your eyes. Leave it on for 20 minutes before washing it with lukewarm water.

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

Hydration, workout and balanced diet prevent sunken eyes

Shutterstock

  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?

Woman visiting doctor to treat sunken eyes

Shutterstock

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.

Many factors contribute to sunken eyes, including lack of sleep, dehydration, and tiredness. It can be considered a cosmetic problem as it makes your eyes appear exhausted and your face look dull and unnatural. However, there are home remedies to help you solve this condition. The methods discussed here, like using coconut oil, castor oil, cucumber, almond oil, vaseline, avocado, etc., may help you improve the appearance of the sunken eyes. However, the area around your eye needs extra attention. Therefore, you may also try some eye exercises to reduce the appearance of sunken eyes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What foods help with sunken eyes?

The key to reducing sunken eyes is to maintain a healthy balanced diet. Watermelon, celery, and cucumber are some foods that help the body in flushing out extra water and minimizing the dark, baggy appearance under the eyes. Tomatoes, oats, kale, walnuts, black beans, kiwis, and green leafy vegetables should all be included in your meals. In addition, drink green tea and consume vitamin K-rich foods.

Does wearing glasses cause sunken eyes?

No, wearing glasses does not cause sunken eyes.

Key Takeaways

  • Sunken eyes, also known as skeletonized eyes, is a condition where the skin around your eyes is pulled inwards.
  • Genetics, facial surgeries, weight loss, or medications are some causes of developing sunken eyes.
  • You can opt for home remedies such as coconut oil, castor oil, or cucumber to nourish the skin under your eyes and stimulate collagen production.
  • Doctors recommend eye drops or cosmetic surgeries if home remedies and exercises do not reduce sunken eyes.

References:

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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    2. Analysis Of Eyelid Fat Pad Changes With Aging
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    3. Management Of Posttraumatic Enophthalmos
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    4. Enophthalmos
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK563300/
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    11. Ricinus Communis (castor Oil): An Overview
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    13. Exploring Cucumber Extract For Skin Rejuvenation
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    15. Enhancement Of Antioxidant And Skin Moisturizing Effects Of Olive Oil By Incorporation Into Microemulsions
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    16. Cosmetic And Therapeutic Applications Of Fish Oil€™s Fatty Acids On The Skin
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    18. Assessment Of Efficacy And Safety Of Newly Formulated Natural Sun Protective Cream
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    21. Health Benefits And Cons Of Solanum Tuberosum
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author
Anjali specializes in hairstyles and hair and skin care and has written over 200 articles in these domains. Her philosophy... more

Dr. Bhakti Kapse

(MBBS)
Dr. Bhakti Kapse is a General Practitioner with over 10 years of experience in family medicine. She obtained her Bachelor... more

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