Many people have dark circles under their eyes because of genetics, sleep deprivation, allergies, or skin irritation. (Learn More) Causes include some that you can control, like sleep or diet. Others, like your genetics, are harder to manage. (Learn More)

Many beauty enthusiasts recommend at-home treatments like cold compresses, tea bag compresses, makeup coverage, and staying hydrated. (Learn More) Long-term options for those who want to eliminate dark circles for good involve surgery, like laser treatments or blepharoplasty. (Learn More) There are significant risks to surgical options, however, including potential vision loss. (Learn More)

Ultimately, you should talk to your optometrist or ophthalmologist about your eye health if you want to reduce dark circles with cosmetic surgery. (Learn More)

eye bag

Do You Have Dark Circles Under Your Eyes?

Dark circles are typically considered a sign of tiredness or sleep deprivation. When you are tired, your eyes become itchy, watery, or puffy. However, there are several potential causes behind dark circles under your eyes.

Sleep loss can be one cause, but you might also need to drink more water. You might be getting older, or you might simply have a genetic predisposition to develop darker skin or slightly larger pockets of fat under your eyes.

Because dark circles are considered unattractive, there have been many approaches developed over the years, ranging from makeup and concealing techniques to self-care and at-home remedies to surgery. Whether or not an option works for you is an individual matter. You may find that you hate wearing makeup to cover dark circles, for example, while applying something cold to your undereye area works wonders.

If you have chronic dark circles, you could have an underlying cause like allergies or sleep problems that can benefit from medical treatment. Always speak with a doctor if you are concerned about dark circles alongside other symptoms.

Treatments for dark circles can impact your eyes too, which puts your vision at risk. Be cautious when you approach treatment options.

What Causes Dark Circles Under the Eyes?

When you have dark circles under your eyes, this may be due to your genetics, which you cannot change. Hyperpigmentation, or naturally darker, skin in certain areas can look like you have dark circles. You may also have thinning skin due to age or genetics, or changing amounts of fat under your eyes, which can lead to a darker, shadowed, or hollow appearance.

There are other manageable or preventable reasons you have dark circles under your eyes or more pronounced dark circles, including:

  • Sleep loss or poor sleeping habits.
  • Allergies or hay fever.
  • Dehydration.
  • Anemia from an iron deficiency.
  • Overexposure to sunlight.
  • Rubbing your eyes frequently.
  • Irritating the skin in other ways, like wearing makeup for too long.
  • Smoking.
  • Thyroid conditions.

The listed causes of dark circles above are manageable. You can build better sleeping and dietary habits, wear sunscreen and take care of your skin, quit smoking, or work with your doctor to manage health conditions like thyroid issues or allergies.

If you have dark circles due to your genetics or age, you may wonder if you can reduce their appearance. Short-term options include at-home treatments. Long-term options often involve cosmetic surgery, which is risky for your vision.

Short-Term & At-Home Solutions to Dark Circles Under Your Eyes

The most common recommendations to manage dark circles under your eyes are at-home treatments. These are short-term solutions, but they can reduce the appearance of dark circles for a few hours. They are also unlikely to hurt your eyes or lead to vision loss, while surgical treatments carry greater risk.

Here are some recommended at-home treatments:

  • Get more sleep. If you have not been getting enough sleep, consider sleep hygiene practices like going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, getting darker or blackout drapes, keeping lights and electronics out of your room, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine. These techniques can help you get enough sleep to reduce the puffiness or dark circles under your eyes.
  • Try a cold compress. Putting something cold on your eyes can reduce inflammation, which might reduce the appearance of dark circles. A cold compress will also constrict blood vessels so the skin under your eyes appears lighter. Cold compresses can be ice packs wrapped in cloth, cucumber slices, or even cold metal like a spoon.
  • Apply tea bags. Caffeine has antioxidant properties, so some beauty enthusiasts use black or green tea to stimulate the blood circulation around their eyes and reduce inflammation. Be sure that the tea bags have been wetted but are not hot to the touch.
  • Use antioxidant skin care products, moisturizers with vitamins, and face masks. There are several products on the market offering vitamins and minerals in creams, lotions, oils, serums, and masks that can boost your skin’s elasticity, improve color and blood flow, and reduce inflammation or puffiness. These work differently for everyone, so you may experiment with a few before finding one that suits your skin type.
  • Apply makeup. Undereye concealer is very common in makeup routines. This liquid product covers dark patches on the skin under the eyes. While it will not reduce inflammation that may cause shadows — and in fact can increase puffiness due to skin irritation — it is a temporary solution for many people.

Long-Term Surgical Treatment for Dark Circles Under Your Eyes

Cosmetic surgery offers several solutions to dark circles under your eyes. Some of the options for surgeries include:

  • Chemical peels. Dermatologists can apply a chemical peel to remove damaged cells and lighten the skin pigment under your eyes. It may take a few days for your skin to fully recover its appearance after a peel.
  • Laser therapy. Pulsed dye or diode lasers are less invasive than some procedures and reduce scarring. These are used to reduce blood vessels under the eyes, which can lighten the skin.
  • Fillers or injections. Platelet-rich plasma and hyaluronic acid are both skin treatments that are injected in the thinner skin under the eyes. These improve texture, elasticity, and appearance; however, they come with significant risks like vision loss.
  • Blepharoplasty: If you have extra skin or fat deposits under your eyes due to age or genetics, a type of cosmetic surgery called blepharoplasty will reduce these deposits. As with all surgical treatments, there are serious risks, including problems with your vision.

Surgeons performing an eye surgery under the microscope at the hospital - healthcare and medicine concepts

Risks From Surgery for Your Dark Circles

If you choose cosmetic surgery to manage the dark circles under your eyes, there is a risk to your vision. Some reports of injections, for example, have found that patients can lose part or all of their vision if needles are inserted improperly or if the injection material ends up in the wrong place. One report of a hyaluronic injection found that the gel blocked some of the blood flow to the patient’s retina, leading to vision loss.

Any injection in the area puts you at risk of damaging nerves or putting material into the eye artery. Blindness, stroke, and death have been reported. While they are reported at low rates, the risks still exist.

Risks associated with laser resurfacing under the eyes include redness, acne, infection, changes in skin color that make the area darker, and turning of the eye lid. If these side effects are not treated, you can lose vision.

In addition to risks of skin damage and scarring from chemical peels, you risk irritating your eyes, which could lead to inflammation and chronic vision problems. You are also at risk from heart, liver, and kidney damage caused by carbolic acid, a chemical that may lead to an irregular heartbeat.

Because blepharoplasty is a form of surgery, there are significant risks, including:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain.
  • Unusual heart rate.
  • Severe, new pain in the eye.
  • Bleeding.
  • Vision problems or damage.

Temporary side effects of blepharoplasty include:

  • Blurred vision.
  • Light sensitivity.
  • Watery eyes.
  • Double vision.
  • Puffy, numb eyelids.
  • Swelling or bruising.
  • Pain or discomfort.

Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes after the procedure, and go to regular follow-up appointments. If you have any significant issues, you need immediate medical attention so call 911.

Treatment for Dark Circles Is Individual

Learning to manage dark circles with at-home treatments is the best approach for most people. If you are considering cosmetic surgery options, work with your optometrist or ophthalmologist to ensure your eyes are healthy. They may recommend avoiding these procedures if your risk of vision loss is high.

 

References

What Causes Dark Circles Under the Eyes? (August 2019). Medical News Today.

Tips for Better Sleep. (July 2016). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How to Get Rid of Dark Circles Permanently. (July 2018). Healthline.

Chemical Peel. (May 2018). Mayo Clinic.

Laser Resurfacing. (October 2018). Mayo Clinic.

Blepharoplasty. (March 2018). Mayo Clinic.

How Cosmetic Fillers May Cause Blindness. (March 2014). Live Science.