Skip to Content

What makes eyes look old?

As we age, our eyes go through many changes that can make us appear older. Drooping eyelids, dark circles, wrinkles, and other visible signs of aging around the eyes are common concerns for many people. While some factors like genetics play a role, there are several key reasons why our eyes tend to show age.

Loss of Collagen

One of the main reasons our eyes look older is the loss of collagen. Collagen is a protein that gives structure and elasticity to tissues like skin. As we get older, our bodies produce less collagen. With less collagen, the skin around the eyes starts to lose its firmness and smoothness. This allows fine lines, wrinkles, and saggy eyelids to develop more easily.

Loss of Fat and Muscle Tone

Fat loss around the eyes is another significant contributor to an aged appearance. As we mature, the fat pads underneath the eyes begin to diminish. This leads to a hollow look under the eyes. We also gradually lose muscle tone in areas like the eyelids. With weaker muscles supporting the eyelids, they can start to droop down and make the eyes appear tired.

Thinning Skin

The skin around our eyes is some of the thinnest on our bodies. As thinning continues with age, it becomes more transparent. This allows the darker blood vessels underneath to show through. The result is darker circles or bluish discoloration under the eyes.

Sun Damage

Exposure to UV rays from the sun is another factor that can accelerate aging around the eyes. Sun damage leads to changes like wrinkles, age spots, spider veins, and uneven skin tone. The eyes are particularly vulnerable since the skin is so delicate. Years of sun exposure without protection will show itself eventually.


Smoking is very detrimental to eye area health. Chemicals from smoking decrease collagen production and damage elastin fibers in the skin. This leads to sagging skin and deep wrinkles around the eyes. Squinting from smoke irritation also causes more repetitive creases around the eyes over time.


Genes passed down from our parents play a role in how quickly the eyes show signs of aging too. If your parents or grandparents had early wrinkling, thinning skin, or dark circles, you are more likely to experience similar changes sooner.

Volume Loss in the Face

As we get older, we lose facial fat not only around the eyes but in areas like the cheeks. This shrinking of facial fullness can make the eyes appear more prominent and accentuated. It creates a sunken look that emphasizes any wrinkles and aging skin changes around the eyes.

Lifestyle Factors

Certain lifestyle factors also impact how the eyes age. Not getting enough sleep causes blood vessel dilation and fluid retention around the eyes, resulting in puffiness and darker circles. Dehydration leads to similar issues. Poor diet, high salt intake, smoking, and excessive alcohol use also accelerate visible aging signs around the delicate eye area.

Eye Strain

Excessive eye strain from computer use, reading, driving, and other activities can cause wrinkles over time too. Squinting and constant muscle movements form repetitive creases in the skin. Staring at digital screens is a common cause of eye strain lines as we age.

Volume Loss in the Tear Trough

The tear trough is the hollow area between the lower eyelid and upper cheek. As we get older, we lose volume in the tear trough. This makes the area appear darker, almost bruised. The tear trough highlight eye bags and an overall tired look.

Aging Changes in Eye Structures

Internally, the eyes go through changes too. The pupils get smaller, reducing peripheral vision. The lenses lose flexibility, impacting focusing ability. Fatty deposits form along the white part of the eyes. These issues may contribute to an older look.

Treatments for Aging Eyes

While we can’t stop the aging process, there are many ways to improve the appearance of mature eyes. Here are some popular anti-aging eye treatments:

Topical Creams

Creams containing retinoids and peptides can reduce wrinkles, improve tone and elasticity. They work by boosting collagen production.

Eye Creams with Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid attracts moisture to fill in fine lines and give a plumper, smoother look.


Vitamins C and E help neutralize free radicals and minimize damage that accelerates aging.

Treatment Benefits
Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) Removes excess skin, tightens muscle, eliminates bagginess
Laser resurfacing Smooths skin, improves tone and texture
Chemical peels Exfoliates dead skin, reduces wrinkles and spots
Botox Relaxes muscles to smooth out wrinkles
Dermal fillers Plumps hollow areas to minimize dark circles and bags

Blepharoplasty (Eyelid Surgery)

Blepharoplasty involves removing excess eyelid skin, fatty deposits, and muscle. This refreshes a tired, sagging eye area.

Laser Skin Resurfacing

Laser treatment removes damaged outer layers of skin. This smoothes wrinkles and evens out skin tone and texture.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels use acids to remove dead skin cells. This reveals newer, healthier skin and reduces the look of wrinkles, spots, and scars.


Botox temporarily paralyzes facial muscles that cause wrinkles. This smooths lines around the crow’s feet, forehead, and between the brows.

Dermal Fillers

Injectable fillers add volume to hollow areas. Filling in tear troughs, under eye hollows, and thinning lips can make eyes look fresher and younger.

Daily Skincare and Eye Care

Caring for the delicate eye area properly is key to maintaining a more youthful look. Here are some tips for keeping eyes looking their best:

  • Wear sunglasses to minimize sun damage
  • Use an eye cream daily that contains peptides, retinoids, or hyaluronic acid
  • Apply cosmetic products gently around the eyes
  • Reduce eye strain by taking breaks when using screens, getting prescription eyeglasses, etc.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Use a humidifier to prevent dryness that accentuates fine lines
  • Don’t smoke
  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep nightly
  • Eat a balanced diet rich in antioxidants
  • Reduce salt intake to minimize fluid retention and puffiness

When to Seek Medical Care

Significant sagging, wrinkling or other aging issues around the eyes may require professional treatment for optimal improvement. Consult a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon if you are concerned about the appearance of your eyes.

Some visible signs that your eyes are aging prematurely include:

  • Excess upper eyelid skin drooping over the lashes
  • Wrinkles along the upper eyelids
  • Deep wrinkles at the outer corners of the eyes
  • Sagging lower eyelids
  • Under eye bags and dark circles
  • Hollowness or loss of volume under the eyes
  • Crow’s feet wrinkles


Aging impacts the eyes in many ways. Collagen and facial volume loss, eye strain, sun damage, smoking, and genetics all contribute to visible signs of mature eyes like wrinkling, sagging lids, and under eye bags and circles. While we can’t stop the clock entirely, daily eye care, protective eyewear, skin treatments, and procedures can help maintain a more refreshed, youthful eye area.