Eye Doctor Explains How To Get Rid Of Under-EYE BAGS

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Eye Doctor Explains How to Get Rid of Under EYE BAGS
Eye Doctor Explains How to Get Rid of Under EYE BAGS Graphic © healthpowerboost.com. Background photo: Shutterstock #643278733 (under license)

Under-eye bags are usually more of a cosmetic concern than a medical problem. Regardless, there are several steps you can take to ‘de-puff’ them and improve their appearance.

To better understand the mechanism of eye bags and how to banish the under-eye baggage, we tapped Dr. Joseph J. Allen, O.D., FAAO, a practicing optometrist based in Minnesota. In his informative YouTube video, he breaks down what causes bags under the eyes and the best solutions available to anyone looking to reduce them.

How To Get Rid of Eye Bags Naturally

Before turning to medications, cosmetic products, or medical intervention, Dr. Allen recommends a few at-home remedies to help with eye bags. These include:

Putting a Halt to the Salt: If you’re a little heavy-handed with salt in the kitchen or dining table, it might be best to ease your intake.

“When you eat a lot of salty food, that will cause water to accumulate in your tissues. This leads to swollen puffy eyes with an under-eye bag appearance,” says Dr. Allen. “It’s not the true number one cause for under-eye bags, but it certainly causes this issue for many people.”

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Americans take too much sodium. And contrary to what most people assume, the salt shaker in your kitchen is not the main culprit. More than 70% of dietary sodium comes from prepared and packaged foods with added salt. [1]

So always look at the Nutrition Facts label. Excess salt can cause fluid retention in the body, which may find its way to your eyelids. The FDA recommends a daily intake of at most 2,300 mg of sodium. [1] The American Heart Association limits the daily value to 1,500 mg. [2]

Cold Compress: A simple and potentially effective solution for your eye bags may lie in your fridge. Applying cold to the puffed area can accelerate the constriction of the blood vessels, which may help drain the fluid. [3] “It’s really not that technical. You just want to get something cold to those eyelids to shrink them down,” Dr. Allen explains.

There are cold compress masks available in stores. But for a quick DIY trick, consider a wet washcloth, a bag of frozen peas, an ice pack, or a chilled spoon. Wrap your compress with a soft cloth and apply it to the eyelids for around 15 minutes. [4]

Manage Allergies: Allergies can cause an accumulation of fluid around your eyes and in the sinuses. This can lead to the development of bags under the eyes and red, watery eyes—which only exacerbates the puffy appearance we’re trying to remedy.

Dr. Allen states, “Allergies cause histamine to be released from your tissue. That will cause your blood vessels and tissues to swell up, become red, and get that itchy sensation.”

If you feel your under-eye baggage is allergy-related, it’s advisable to steer clear of potential allergens. And in case your experience red or itchy eyes, avoid the urge to excessively rub them. [3] You can also consult your doctor to explore antihistamines and other remedies to alleviate your symptoms.

Try Some Tea or Coffee… On Your Eyes! Compounds in tea and coffee have properties that may help reduce under-eye puffiness. But rather than chug a hot cuppa as part of your morning ritual… place tea bags or coffee grounds on your closed eyelids. Talk about a bag for a bag.

According to a study published in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research, green tea can offer potent anti-inflammatory properties. The researchers suggested that this could be due to the high flavonoid content of green tea. [5] Other studies support the idea that coffee grounds and black tea may also do the trick. They contain caffeine which has anti-inflammatory properties that may help you deal with under-eye puffiness. [6]

Steep two tea bags, chill them in the fridge for a few minutes, strain excess liquid, and place them on your closed eyes for 15 minutes or so.

Try An Eye Cream (Or Not)

Using skin care products for the eyes is a polarizing topic, with research and experts offering conflicting arguments.

Some studies have shown that certain eye products can improve the appearance of skin around the eyes. [7][8][9] On the other hand, retinol, a popular ingredient in eye creams, has been linked to adverse effects on the eyes. [10] Part of the concern surrounding eye creams stems from the eyelid skin being thin and more fragile, increasing the risk of irritation and inflammation.

Regardless of where you stand in the eye cream debate, it’s essential to exercise caution with the products you pick up and use them in moderation.

“I personally do not recommend under-eye bag creams,” says Dr. Allen. “But if you’re looking for either moisturizing creams, sunblock, or even makeup around the eyes, get something that’s eye friendly.”

Surgery For Under-Eye Bags?

As we age, the skin around our eyes can gradually weaken. Fat previously held in place by firmer skin begins to shift into the area under your eyes, leading to a puffy appearance. [3] If your under-eye bags are due to age-related changes in the tissue around your eyes, often “there’s no miracle cure for it,” Dr. Allen says.
“This is why often, surgical correction is the end-all-be-all treatment for under-eye bags,” he adds.

The type of surgery he is referring to is known as blepharoplasty or a lower eyelid lift. During the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision inside your lower eyelid and repositions or removes the excess fat or skin responsible for the puffy under-eye appearance.



[1] U.S. Food and Drug Administration: https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/sodium-your-diet

[2] American Heart Association: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/how-much-sodium-should-i-eat-per-day

[3] American Academy of Ophthalmology: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/bags-under-eyes

[4] National Eye Institute: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/nei-for-kids/first-aid-tips

[5] Chatterjee, P., Chandra, S., Dey, P., & Bhattacharya, S. (2012). Evaluation of anti-inflammatory effects of green tea and black tea: A comparative in vitro study. Journal of advanced pharmaceutical technology & research, 3(2), 136: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3401676/

[6] Amnuaikit, T., Maneenuan, D., & Boonme, P. (2011). Evaluation of caffeine gels on physicochemical characteristics and in vivo efficacy in reducing puffy eyes. Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science, (Issue), 56-59: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Evaluation-of-Caffeine-Gels-on-Physicochemical-and-Amnuaikit-Maneenuan/aa08496ff554c081d06fda1bd681f60e602464aa?p2df

[7] Kaczvinsky, J. R., Griffiths, C. E., Schnicker, M. S., & Li, J. (2009). Efficacy of anti‐aging products for periorbital wrinkles as measured by 3‐D imaging. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 8(3), 228-233: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19735523/

[8] Ota, M., Jiang, W., Ueno, K., Ichimi, A., Hara, E., & Sakurada, K. (2019). 182 Retinol remarkably effective in reducing neck wrinkles. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 139(9), S245: https://www.jidonline.org/article/S0022-202X(19)32040-8/fulltext

[9] Herman, A., & Herman, A. P. (2013). Caffeine’s mechanisms of action and its cosmetic use. Skin pharmacology and physiology, 26(1), 8-14: https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/343174

[10] Bergler-Czop, B., Bilewicz-Stebel, M., STAŃKOWSK, A., & Bilewicz-Wyrozumska, T. (2016). Side effects of retinoid therapy on the quality of vision. Acta Pharmaceutica, 66(4), 471-478: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27749251/

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