What Do Sunken Eyes (Enophthalmos) Look Like?
Enophthalmos refers to the increased depth and hollowing of the eye sockets.5 It’s more commonly known as sunken eyes.
Scientifically, enophthalmos means “the posterior displacement of the globe in an anteroposterior plane within the orbit.”9 This translates to eyes that look hollow.
For example, there may be dark shadows or dark circles underneath the eyes, around the lower eyelid. This may make you look tired or sick even if you have had adequate rest and are healthy.
Sunken eyes are a common sign of aging due to tear trough deformity. This is when the lower eyelid bags become more prominent. Sunken eyes aren't a cause for concern if related to aging changes.
However, some people may not like the look of sunken eyes and, therefore, take steps to reduce them.
Pictures of Sunken Eyes
Sunken eyes look different on different people for various reasons. Some people have faint sunken eyes, while others have more apparent sunken eyes.
Several factors affect the look of the skin around the eyes, including age, weight, diet, and more.
Here are some pictures of sunken eyes for your reference:
What are the Symptoms of Sunken Eyes?
Some common symptoms of sunken eyes include the following:
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Dark bags under the eyes
- Dark shading under the eyes
- Loose or thin skin under the eyes
- Eyes that appear hollow
- A lower eyelid that appears to sag
- Puffiness of the lower eyelid
Depending on the cause of sunken eyes, other symptoms may accompany them.
12 Causes of Sunken Eyes
There are several causes of sunken eyes. Learning about these causes can help you find the proper treatment or prevention plan.
Causes of sunken eyes include:
Aging causes sunken eyes. As you get older, your skin loses some of its elasticity. As a result, the sensitive skin around your eyes may begin to droop. This can make your eyes appear sunken.
2. Lack of Sleep
A lack of sleep can cause dark circles and bags to appear under the eyes. These bags and circles can make the eyes appear sunken.
Dehydration can take a toll on your health and your skin. Dehydration could cause the appearance of sunken eyes.
4. Eye Injury
If you have an eye injury or fracture of the bones around your eyes, this could cause sunken eyes.2
You may also have inflammation and swelling from eye trauma, making your eyes look sunken.3
5. Poor Diet
What you eat can affect your health. To prevent sunken eyes, eat foods rich in collagen. Collagen is the body’s most abundant protein. It’s important for your skin, vision, and overall health.6
Our bodies make less collagen as we grow older.4 You may develop dark shadows under your eyes if you eat a poor diet and do not get enough of your collagen-producing leafy greens.
6. Underlying Medical Conditions
Certain underlying medical conditions can cause sunken eyes. A sickness as simple as a sinus infection can make your eyes appear sunken and hollow.
On the other hand, more severe health conditions like thyroid disease can cause sunken eyes.1 Certain types of cancer may also be the culprit.
7. Weight Loss
Rapid weight loss can result in loose skin, causing the eyes to look sunken. While weight loss is a great health goal, you should meet the body's nutritional needs to stay healthy and strong.
Some people are born with sunken eyes. For instance, they may have a genetic predisposition that causes the skin to be thinner around their eyes.
Smoking can drop your collagen count, affecting your skin's appearance. It can also make the skin around your eyes appear sunken.
10. Allergic Reactions
Allergic reactions can affect the skin around your eyes. They may cause dark circles and sagging skin, leading to a sunken appearance.
11. Sun Exposure
The sun's harmful UV rays can damage the skin around your eyes, making it look thin and sunken. Make sure to wear sunscreen or avoid direct sun exposure to prevent this.
Certain medications have side effects that can cause your eyes to look sunken. Your doctor should be able to identify which medications could be causing this condition.
Can Sunken Eyes Cause Complications?
Sunken eyes are usually not anything to worry about. They typically happen with age and bad habits like poor-quality sleep and nutrition.
However, sunken eyes can be a sign of a bigger health concern.
When to See a Doctor for Sunken Eyes
You should see a doctor for sunken eyes if you:
- Have experienced an eye injury, like a fracture
- Are concerned that they indicate a more significant health concern
- May have an infection if you are experiencing other symptoms with sunken eyes, such as itchiness, redness, excess eye crust
- Are experiencing vision problems
How to Prevent and Treat Sunken Eyes
Various at-home and professional treatments are available to prevent and treat sunken eyes. These include:
Here are some at-home treatments for sunken eyes:
- Drink plenty of water. Drink enough water and plenty of fluids to help collagen production.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eating a healthy diet with many green vegetables can also help produce collagen. This promotes stronger, healthier, more elastic skin—especially for the delicate skin around the eyes.
- Get all your vitamins. Getting your vitamins, like vitamin C, is important. This can be found in citrus fruits. You may also consider taking daily vitamins or collagen supplements.
- Get enough sleep. Exercise and consistently get enough sleep. Adults need at least eight hours of sleep per night, on average. Anything less than that can cause a domino effect of physical and mental health issues.
- Establish a skincare routine. Practicing a regular skincare routine can reduce the appearance of sunken eyes.
- Almond oil. Almond oil may be used to treat dry skin around the eyes, smooth and rejuvenate the skin, and improve skin complexion and tone over time.1
If you're going to use skincare products to treat sunken eyes, make sure to do a patch test first. Stop using the product if you experience any adverse reactions from it.
If you want a more permanent and effective treatment for sunken eyes, you can try the following:
- Dermal fillers. Dermal fillers are another option to fill in sunken and hollow eyes. They're usually made from hyaluronic acid that can hydrate and volumize the skin. However, dermal fillers are temporary.10
- Facelifts. Facelifts can also help by tightening up the skin.7 Unfortunately, unlike beauty sleep, cosmetic surgeries are not free. They can be costly, depending on how severe your case is.
- Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty). For a more permanent solution, cosmetic eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) is available. It can reduce the look of sunken eyes by removing fat deposits that cause puffiness of the lids.8
- Laser treatment. Some people opt for laser treatments to treat sunken eyes. This treatment uses heat energy to firm up the skin and improve your eyes' appearance.
Sunken eyes are common as we age but can also be caused by other factors. While they are usually nothing to worry about, consider seeing a doctor if you're concerned that they indicate a bigger health issue. You can prevent and treat sunken eyes through different at-home and professional treatments.
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