For Your Eyes Only


The results of treatments for tired-looking eyes can be subtle—or dramatic.

If they’re bright, clear and expressive, your eyes can be one of your most appealing assets. But they’re also one of the first places to show signs of aging, fatigue and environmental damage. The skin surrounding the eyes is thinner than other facial skin and has fewer oil glands, making the eye area more prone to noticeable effects of the stresses you face. And it’s not just the march of years, long hours in front of the computer or late nights out with friends that can cause puffy or tired-looking eyes; other factors such as heredity and allergies may add to the problem.

Regardless of the cause, no one wants to face a face where tired eyes take center stage. When it’s time to erase dark circles, shoo away crow’s feet or send those under-eye bags packing, you can find any number of remedies to suit your comfort level, convenience and bank account.

Visit any drug-store or department-store cosmetics counter and your head will spin from the variety of over-the-counter remedies for brightening and tightening the area surrounding the eyes. Many make spectacular claims and tout revolutionary ingredients—so how do you choose?

Look for eye creams and gels with some key ingredients. Vitamin C helps repair cell damage by stimulating collagen and strengthening blood vessels. Other natural antioxidants such as coenzyme Q-10 and extracts of green tea and soy help minimize fine lines and wrinkles, neutralizing harmful free radicals. Vitamin K (phytonadione) targets dark circles; it is often used by cosmetic surgeons after surgery to reduce the severity of bruising. When coupled with vitamin E, which hinders the wrinkle-causing effects of UV rays, it can produce a powerful result.

Alpha and beta hydroxy acids have long been the favored weapons in the fight against sagging facial skin. Alpha lipoic acid mixed in creams works best in treating the delicate eye area.

Remember, when it comes to applying creams and gels, a little goes a long way—a dab the size of a pea is more than enough for each eye. To avoid irritation don’t put topical lotions on the eyelids, and no eye product should cause burning or stinging. If that occurs, stop using it immediately.

Cosmeceuticals are part pharmaceutical compound and part skin preparation; however, they are not considered medication and therefore are not regulated by the FDA. While cosmeceuticals are not intended to treat disease, they can make the skin appear younger. Cosmeceuticals are often offered through dermatologists and plastic surgeons, who typically have a favorite line.

The star ingredient in most topical creams is retinoid, a vitamin A compound. Retinoids generally require a prescription, but some forms, such as retinal, are popping up in over-the-counter products such as Roc Retinal Eye Cream.

More and more of these products are available online or in select department stores and day spas; some popular brands are StriVectin-SD featuring pentapeptides that aid in the production of collagen; Prevage, which contains idebenone, a synthetic antioxidant; and RevaleSkin’s CoffeeBerry, an extract from the fruit of the coffee plant with a diuretic effect that reduces puffiness.

Laser treatments are among the many eye-enhancing procedures offered at medspas—cosmetic treatment centers at plastic surgeon and dermatologist offices. Lasers can stimulate collagen, rejuvenate the surface of the skin and minimize dark circles.

Nonablative lasers use wavelengths of light to reduce the appearance of dark areas. A little redness is normal but you can generally return to work or daily activities immediately. Ablative resurfacing lasers essentially vaporize the upper layers of aged or damaged skin to reduce the appearance of wrinkles or other imperfections. Be prepared for redness to persist for several weeks. Those administering these treatments should be specially trained and under the supervision of a doctor, preferably a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

Botox injections, used to weaken fine muscles around the eyes, are a popular choice for treating bags and diminishing crow’s feet. Treatments consist of a number of tiny injections; results are immediate and can last from four to six months. Common side effects include slight bruising. Only a doctor trained in the procedure should perform the injections, since improper placement can cause drooping eyelids or loss of expressiveness.

When eye problems aren’t solved by other treatments, some people opt for plastic surgery. Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) removes skin around the eyes and draws the remaining skin taut to help diminish bags and puffiness. Unfortunately, this is not a fix for dark circles or fine lines. Also, as with any surgery, risks are involved—some serious. And be prepared for a few days of downtime following the procedure. Scars from the incision may take three to six months to fade; you may experience temporary numbness or impaired function in the eyelid area.

No one is immune to the effects of aging or to other factors that may cause problem eyes. To help hold off the inevitable, drink plenty of water, get ample rest, limit sun exposure, eat a healthy diet and try to reduce stress.

Categories: Features