Most of us get some bagginess, mild swelling or puffiness, with or without pigmentation, under the eyes as we get older and this is known as eye bags.
These are common complaints and, unfortunately, are just another side effect of the aging process. Having eye bags can have a negative impact on a person’s self-confidence.
Symptoms and cause
The skin under the eyes looks swollen, saggy, loose, and darker in colour mainly due to the force of gravity and age. With age, we lose collagen, the skin loses its elasticity, and it droops.
The eyelid muscles also weaken and sag. Then the fat which supports the whole eyeball collects below the eyes as the result of years of gravity pulling it down.
Also, the space below your eyes can accumulate fluid, making the under-eye area appear puffy or swollen. Lack of sleep, allergies, smoking, heredity - under-eye bags can run in families - all accentuate the bags.
There's no medical reason for treating under-eye bags but there may be a cosmetic one. It's possible that the swelling under your eyes is caused by an allergy. So, ask your doctor about allergy testing and prescription allergy medications. Among surgical cosmetic approaches are:-
These include laser resurfacing, chemical peels and fillers, and aesthetic surgery that can remove excess skin around the eye and lessen bags under the eyes.
Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty)
During blepharoplasty, the surgeon removes excess fat through an incision in the natural crease of the upper eyelid or inside the lower lid, then rejoins the skin with tiny dissolving stitches.
What you can do at home
Reduce salt in your diet, don't smoke, get enough sleep with your head slightly raised, treat allergy symptoms and use cosmetics.
What to do about dry eyes
Dry eyes are quite common, especially during the winter months. They also tend to occur in old age, with a dry mouth, and if you suffer with Sjogren's Syndrome.
What are the symptoms?
Stinging, burning eyes, mucus in or around your eyes, sensitivity to light, eye redness, blurred vision, and difficulty driving at night.
What causes it?
Increased tear evaporation caused by wind, smoke, or dry air, blinking less often and eyelid problems, such as blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid edges).
Decreased tear production, when you're unable to produce enough tears, can be caused by ageing, medication, laser eye surgery and tear gland damage.
An autoimmune disease called Sjogren's Syndrome with a characteristic face rash and arthritis, dry eyes and dry mouth.
An imbalance in the tear composition of any of the three basic tear film layers (oil, water and mucus) can cause dry eyes.
What's the treatment?
You may be able to manage your dry eyes with frequent eyelid washing and the use of over-the-counter eye drops that help lubricate your eyes.
Treating the underlying cause of dry eyes, if known, is the first step. If you have an eyelid condition, your doctor may refer you to an ophthalmologist, or if you have rheumatoid arthritis and suspected Sjogren's Syndrome, to a rheumatologist.
Your doctor may recommend antibiotics for infection. Inflammation on the surface of your eyes (cornea) may be helped by prescription eye drops containing the immune-suppressing medication cyclosporine or steroids.