Sunken eyes are eyes that appear dark or hollow. Possible causes include aging, sleep loss, dehydration, and trauma. Depending on the cause, medication and home remedies may help reduce their appearance.

The skin under the eyes is delicate, which is why it sometimes appears sunken and has darker coloring than elsewhere on the face.

Age plays a role in sunken eyes, but other factors can contribute, so it may also affect younger people. Most people notice sunken eyes when they look in the mirror. The exact appearance will differ from person to person.

This article explains what to know about sunken eyes, including the causes, treatments, and when to get help.

Fast facts on sunken eyes:

  • The medical term for sunken eyes is tear trough hollows.
  • Sunken eyes can be prevalent in older adults.
  • Cosmetic surgery and dermal fillers are options for sunken eyes caused by aging or genetics.
  • A doctor will ask for a medical history and examine the face and eyes to decide if treatment is necessary.
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Below are some potential causes of sunken eyes:


People with dehydration can present with sunken eyes. Potential causes of dehydration include:


Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, giving the skin its strength and flexibility.

As the body ages, it tends to lose collagen. One of the earliest places to see age-related changes is the skin under the eyes. The loss of collagen causes the eyes to settle back into the eye sockets, making the eyes appear sunken.

Weight loss

Sometimes, weight loss is dramatic enough to cause sunken eyes. Extreme weight loss may cause blood vessels below the eyes to become prominent and the skin to be transparent, producing the appearance of sunken eyes.


A person’s genetics or DNA can cause deep set or sunken eyes. As an example of the effect of DNA, the position of the eyes in the sockets is due largely to genetics.


A 2019 cross-sectional survey of women ages 18–75 years associated smoking with tear-trough hollowing, among other signs of premature aging.

Smoking causes collagen and skin elasticity degradation. These losses can cause the skin on the face to sag and the eyes to appear sunken.

Allergies and sinus infections

Allergies can cause sudden swelling of the face, which may affect the eyes. When allergies cause swelling in the face, the skin around the eyes can become inflamed and puffy, causing the appearance of sunken eyes.

Sinusitis can also cause inflammation and swelling around the eyes, giving the appearance of sunken eyes. Nasal congestion and a high temperature can indicate a sinus infection.


Any injury to the face or the bones around the eyes, including surgery, can cause the eyes to appear sunken.

For example, classic orbital blowout fractures can cause soft tissue changes in adults, giving the appearance of a sunken eye.

Anti-glaucoma eye drops

Certain eye drops to treat glaucoma may cause skin darkening around the eyes as a side effect. This can give the appearance of sunken eyes.

People can discuss side effects with a doctor if they are using eye drops to treat glaucoma.

A healthcare professional may be able to prescribe medication for sunken eyes due to medical conditions, such as allergies and sinus problems. These may include antibiotics for sinus infections or antihistamines and eye drops for allergies.

If sunken eyes are due to current medications, such as glaucoma eye drops, a doctor may be able to adjust the affected person’s treatment plan. However, people should not discontinue treatment without speaking with a doctor first.

Cosmetic surgery and dermal fillers may be an option for sunken eyes due to aging or genetics. However, people should discuss the risks of surgery with a healthcare professional.

Dermal fillers involve an injection of hyaluronic acid into the sensitive tissue just below the eyes. Surgical treatment may also be an option for certain eye injuries, such as fractures.

Lifestyle changes and home remedies may also help to reduce sunken eyes in some cases. However, further research is necessary to understand if certain home remedies are actually effective at improving the appearance of sunken eyes.

For the following remedies involving the application of substances to the area, a person should keep their eyes closed and avoid getting the substances in their eyes.

Home remedies include:

Staying hydrated

Water is the most necessary thing the body needs to stay healthy. It affects every organ in the body, including the largest of them all — the skin.

People with sunken eyes due to dehydration may notice improvement by drinking enough water. People may need to increase their water consumption in the following circumstances:

  • they are experiencing vomiting or diarrhea
  • they have a fever
  • they are in a hot climate
  • they are exercising

Almond oil

Anecdotal evidence may suggest that almond oil can lighten discoloration underneath the eyes, reduce puffiness, and lock in moisture.

People may apply almond oil underneath the eyes or may use cosmetics and skin care products containing almond oil.

However, almond oil can cause skin and eye irritation. If this occurs, people should stop using the oil and may need to wash the eye out with water.

Raw potatoes

Some people may suggest that laying a slice of raw potato on the eyes for a short period may reduce puffiness and lighten dark circles below the eyes.

Potatoes contain vitamin C, enzymes, and starch, which may nourish the thin skin below the eyes. The coolness of raw potatoes may also help reduce blood vessel inflammation to minimize swelling and a dark appearance.

Tea bags

Tea contains antioxidants and flavonoids. Applying damp, warm teabags may help improve the appearance of sunken eyes by promoting circulation and relaxing the eye nerves and muscles.

Before application, people should squeeze out excess water and ensure the tea bag is not too hot.

Cucumber slices

Cucumber is a popular home remedy for dark circles and sunken, inflamed eyes. A person can place cucumber slices under the eyes for a cooling effect and to reduce swelling.

Fish oil

Fish oil is rich in fatty acids, making it an anti-inflammatory that promotes the healing of damaged cells.

People may choose to include fish oil in their diet or apply it topically to the skin.

Lemon juice

Lemon polyphenols may have an anti-aging effect. For some people, including lemons in the diet may help to improve the appearance of sunken eyes.

Sunken eyes are not always due to an underlying health condition and can happen as a person ages.

However, if sunken eyes appear to worsen despite getting enough sleep and staying hydrated, or if a person experiences other symptoms, they can speak with a healthcare professional about treatment options.

Additional symptoms that may indicate another problem include:

A doctor may use a physical exam and other tests to diagnose the underlying cause of sunken eyes and administer the most appropriate treatment.

They may also be able to recommend lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help to reduce the appearance of sunken eyes.

Sunken eyes can occur due to the natural aging process. However, sunken eyes may also occur due to health problems such as dehydration, allergies, and sinusitis.

If sunken eyes are due to an underlying health problem, a doctor may be able to prescribe treatments to improve the appearance of the eyes.

Certain home remedies, such as dietary changes and topical treatments, may also help to improve sunken eyes. However, further research is necessary to understand if home remedies are effective.