Some things in life are unavoidable. Ageing is one of them, and the eyes can be one of the first areas of the face to be affected. Once you start to notice the changes around your eyes, it can be difficult to ignore them.
So why do the eyes give away age more readily than other parts of the body? Our Consultant Ophthalmologist and Oculoplastic Surgeon, Miss Elizabeth Hawkes (pictured above), takes a look.
Why do the eyes show signs of ageing?
As you age, collagen in the skin breaks down more quickly than it can be produced. The skin around the eyes is very thin, so it’s more prone to breaking down and it becomes looser. This means that fine lines and wrinkles can begin to develop.
Elastin production also slows down as you get older. Elastin is a protein which provides skin with the ability to stretch and snap back. As your eyelids lose elasticity, they can start to droop.
In addition, as your skeleton gets older, the bones can atrophy meaning that the eye socket area widens and causes the skin to appear looser and sag even more than with lost elasticity alone. Below the eye, the supporting soft tissue such as fat or muscle can begin to fade, causing the skin to cave in or sag.
A lack of sleep, stress or a poor diet can cause dark circles (due to iron deficiency) and puffiness.
What changes are noticeable around the eyes?
Ectropian is a condition which usually affects the lower eyelid, where it becomes weak with age, droops away from the eye and turns outwards. It can affect one or both eyes.
Entropian is here the eyelids turn inwards towards your eye. This can cause the lashes to irritate the surface of your eye. Like ectropian, it can occur in one or both eyes.
Ptosis is when the upper eyelid droops, restricting or blocking your vision. It’s commoner in older people due to the weakness of the muscle which lifts the upper eyelid (known as the levator muscle).
Dark circles and puffy eyes
As you age, collagen breakdown in the skin exceeds the rate of collagen production. The skin around the eyes is very thin, making the veins under your eyes more visible.
The tissue above the eyes also begins to weaken and supporting soft tissue, such as fat, begins to slide down the lid, creating the puffy appearance. The muscles below the skin weaken and allow small amounts of fat to prolapse forward causing eyelid puffiness in the lower eyelids and the appearance of eyebags and dark circles.
Wrinkles around the eyes, also known as crow’s feet, can be caused by squinting, smiling and exposure to the sun.
Loss of peripheral vision
Upper eyelid dermatochalasis is the medical term for excess upper eyelid skin, you may feel extra heaviness on your upper lid or notice that your eyelid skin is touching your lashes.
How can you avoid signs of ageing around the eyes?
While prevention is always better than cure, some people are genetically predisposed to ageing eyes. However, you can slow the onset of changes around the eye area by using eye creams which contain SPF and UV protection, getting plenty of sleep, ensuring that you eat well and by drinking plenty of water.
If these don’t work, lower eyelid bags can be treated with a lower blepharoplasty. Upper eyelid problems can be treated with surgery of the upper eyelid known as an upper blepharoplasty.
What treatments do we offer for ageing eyes?
If these changes are affecting your confidence or stopping you from enjoying what you love, our upper and lower blepharoplasty treatment for ectropian, entropian and ptosis can help.
Our highly respected Ophthalmic Consultants, supported by a team of experienced eye healthcare professionals, can quickly assess and diagnose any eyelid condition you may have. Treatment can then be carried out at our safe and comfortable CQC rated ‘Outstanding’ hospital in the heart of Kent.
Contact our Private Patient team via our online enquiry form or by calling 01580 363158.
Published on 21 June 2021