It’s something we have all looked in the mirror and seen–dark shadows under our eyes. Commonly known as bags, these dark circles can affect everyone, men, women, the young, or the older generations.
They can appear after a heavy night drinking alcohol. But we even see them after having had a solid eight hours of sleep.
An aesthetic issue, these dark “bags” are unsightly and can often make us look under the weather or exhausted. They can also add years to your appearance. But what causes these dark shadows and what can we do about them?
Are dark shadows under the eyes a problem?
Dark circles and shadows are typically due to blood vessels under the skin showing through. Light then reflects off this thin, delicate layer of skin giving it a dark appearance.
In the majority of cases, dark circles under the eyes are completely harmless. There are no health risks, just an unwanted and unwelcome blemish. On rare occasions, they can be a minor symptom of a more serious medical condition. It is therefore important to understand what is causing the dark shadows.
Certain cases of bags under the eyes are due to our genes and hereditary factors. How transparent your skin is depends on certain, and unavoidable, genetic factors. Age is also a contributing factor. As we get older, our skin naturally becomes thinner, leading to shadows appearing. Unfortunately there is no way to change who our parents are or to stop the aging process.
However, there are other factors that can cause dark shadows, many of which can be attributed to our lifestyles.
When we sleep, our body has the time to heal and revitalize itself. If we do not get enough sleep, fatigue reduces the blood circulation which results in our skin becoming paler.
A lack of sleep can also cause a buildup of fluids below the eye. As a result, the area may become puffy and dark shadows may be the result.
In this modern era, we are using computers, smartphones and other gadgets with screens more than ever before. Our eyes can get tired. We all know we should take regular breaks when using our devices, but rarely do.
Reading at night without adequate lighting is another thing that can make our eyes tired. Eye strain and fatigue cause the blood vessels under your eyes to become larger, leading to bags.
The thyroid is a major gland in the human body. It contributes vitally to all of our hormones functioning properly. Hypothyroidism (low thyroid condition) reduces the production of blood which causes changes to energy production, the gastrointestinal system, and the liver.
In turn, the removal of toxins and the delivery of nutrients in the body is affected. These cause stressful conditions which often exhibit themselves as darkened skin under the eyes.
A lack of vitamins may lead to dark shadows
Vitamins are an essential part of keeping our skin healthy. Without certain vitamins, we will lack the natural glow that many of us strive so hard for. If you don’t include the following in your diet, you may find those pesky dark shadows developing beneath your eyes.
Vitamin B12 is a complex molecule which is involved in many bodily functions. Some of these include energy production, metabolism, cell division, and nerve function.
B12 also contributes towards producing red blood cells in bone marrow. A lack of B12 can lead to anemia as these cells are needed to transport oxygen around the body. With anemia comes tiredness and paleness and these factors go hand-in-hand with dark shadows under the eyes.
A deficiency of iron can also cause a form of anemia. Iron helps the bone marrow produce hemoglobin for healthy blood cells. If there is a lack of iron in your system, the veins around the eyes become more noticeable
Selenium is a mineral important for many processes in the body. One of these is producing and keeping the thyroid active. When an individual is not getting enough selenium, thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism can occur.
Taking in salt (which contains sodium) creates water retention throughout the body. If we ingest too much sodium the area around our eyes can become puffy and dark circles appear. In moderate amounts, potassium can help to reduce this puffiness and darkness.
But be sure to not have too much potassium in your system as this can also cause dark shadows.
People have been telling us for years about the benefits of eating a balanced diet. Consuming foods which are rich in nutrients lead to a fit, healthy body. But did you know that a healthy diet can also stave off dark shadows and puffiness around the eyes?
Eating healthily is something that many of us can achieve easily. Just make sure you eat a varied diet which contains all the vitamins and minerals you need.
B12 can be found naturally in meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Beans, pumpkin seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains and dried fruits are all excellent sources of iron. Selenium sources include Brazil nuts and tuna while turkey, yoghurt, milk, and tomatoes all contain high levels of potassium.
As many of the essential vitamins are found in meat products, vegetarians and vegans may need to consider taking supplements.
Spend some time outside
Fresh air and exercise can both contribute to a healthier body. Getting outside will definitely help with sleep patterns which may help eliminate the bags under your eyes. It will also keep you away from the computer screen!
Be sure to take care of your eyes when you are outside though. If you suffer from allergies, remember to take any necessary medication. And wear sunglasses and sunscreen to protect your eyes. Too much sun can lead to an increase in melanin (the cells which color your skin brown) creating darkened areas.
At the New Jersey Eye Center, we regularly see patients who complain of dark shadows under their eyes. Identifying the cause could be the first step to eliminating them completely. You need suffer no more. Book an appointment or walk in to see one of our specialists today.