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Dr Elizabeth Hawkes shares her tips on how to take five years off your eyes

The delicate skin around our eyes is one of the first places to show signs of ageing, and with this comes the premature onset of fine lines and wrinkles.

As you age, your eyelid skin loses its elasticity and stretches, the muscles directly underneath weaken (orbicularis oculi). The septum, an important and unique structure to the eyelids weakens. The eyeball is cushioned in fat held in place by the septum. As the septum weakens either over time or due to a genetic predisposition, the orbital fat prolapse above and below your eyelids, causing sagging and eye bags under your eyes. Besides making you look older, severely sagging skin around your eyes can reduce your side vision (peripheral vision), especially the upper and outer parts of your field of vision. Not surprisingly the stress of the last year has also impacted the skin around the eyes too, and with people relying more heavily on video calls for work and socialising, there has never been more focus on the eyes.

Which is why Consultant oculoplastic and ophthalmic surgeon at Cadogan Clinic, Chelsea, Dr Elizabeth Hawkes has reported a steep increase in enquiries from people wanting to take years off their eyes.

"I have already seen a significant increase in patients coming to me for blepharoplasty surgery since the start of the pandemic,’ says Miss Hawkes. ‘The stress of the pandemic coupled with us seeing a permanent reflection of ourselves on Zoom calls has absolutely been a catalyst. American statistics in 2019 saw an increase in the number of blepharoplasty surgeries by 2%, I predict this to rise in 2021 significantly." Here are Dr Elizabeth’s top tips for taking five years off your eyes:

Drink more water

"Dark circles under the eyes are traditionally thought of as a sign of tiredness. However, this is not always the case," explains Miss Elizabeth Hawkes. ‘The true cause of dark circles include genetics and vascular, which won’t have changed much during the pandemic. However what will have been impacted is lifestyle factors such as dehydration and smoking which can play a huge part when it comes to the the appearance and persistence of dark circles."

"Topical creams are good for dehydration and allergy relief, but they will not cause the blood vessels under the eyes to constrict. It’s important to ensure you’re drinking enough water and if possible to stop smoking."

Use retinol

"For those wishing to address the wrinkles around their eyes without surgery there are steps you can take including, incorporating retinol into your daily skincare routine," explains Dr Hawkes "Retinol is a type of retinoid, derived from Vitamin A. It exfoliates skin and helps the skin to produce collagen and to fight free radicals." Retinol, or retinoids, work by prompting surface skin cells to turn over and die quickly, making way for new healthy fresh skin underneath. That helps to treat wrinkles by preventing collagen breaking down and thickening the deeper layer of skin to help prevent wrinkles.

Increase your Omega-3 intake

"Omega-3 fatty acids are important to the health of the macula (the part of the eye that’s responsible for central vision) and the health of the skin, including around the eye area," explains Dr Elizabeth. "So trying to incorporate more foods containing essential omega-3 fatty acids helps to keep your vision good and also to maintain healthy skin around your eyes." "Omega-3 fatty acids are powerful anti-inflammatories. Research suggests that the fats protect skin cells against sun-induced inflammation and help control how the body responds to UV rays, thereby mitigating damage." "Eating a diet high in good fats and oily fish can help to promote good skin health because they are rich in Omega-3 which is a key nutrient for helping to repair damaged skin cells. Omega-3 fatty acids are responsible for maintaining healthy membranes around our skin cells. If we’re deficient in these it reduces the skin's ability to absorb and retain water, causing dehydration or dry skin. Upping your intake of omega-3 fatty acids may help improve hydration by boosting the skin's natural barrier."

"Omega-3s may also help to protect our skin against the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays because studies have shown that supplementing with a combination of certain types of Omega-3s may reduce the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays."

Wear a high factor SPF around the delicate eye area even inside

We all know that you have to wear SPF when you’re out in the sun, but Dr Elizabeth Hawkes insists that it's important to wear it around the delicate eye area even when you’re inside working on your laptop or PC, or just laying in bed checking your phone. "HEV light, or High Energy Visible Light is the blue/violet band of the visible sunlight spectrum. So unlike UV light it can be seen and it’s omitted from things like your television and mobile phone screen. With most of the county now working from home, using laptops and screens in order to conduct what would normally be face-to-face meetings, the time we spend in front of a screen every day is higher than ever. Research has proven that HEV light influences skin conditions and can cause skin to age prematurely,’ explains Dr Elizabeth Hawkes. ‘Whilst UV light penetrates the outer layers of the skin, HEV light penetrates the lower layers (the dermis). Although HEV light isn’t associated with skin cancer or sunburn, it is definitely associated with ageing and can also induce hyperpigmentation and may contribute to conditions such as age spots and sun spots." "One of the best ways to prevent wrinkles around the eye area is to protect your skin from UVA and UVB light, this means wearing a high factor SPF at all times, even when it doesn’t seem sunny outside, or when you’re sitting inside working."

Try anti-wrinkle injections

Botox - or anti-wrinkles injections - are a sure-fire way to reduce the wrinkles around your eyes and take years off the eyes. "Botox temporarily paralyses the muscles that make you squint which in turn causes your wrinkles and fine lines to relax and soften in appearance," says Dr Elizabeth Hawkes. "Anti-wrinkle injections are effective and results can be seen just a few days after the treatment." However, make sure that you see an experienced and adequately trained physician or you could end up with a face frozen in a very strange way. The only downside is that it’s temporary. And while your metabolic rate does come into play here, you’re going to be lucky if you see the results for any longer than four months. Costing around £300 per treatment (although costs vary depending on the clinic) it may not be feasible for everyone.

Ask for Profhilo

"Profhilo is a new, highly effective anti-ageing injectable treatment based on hyaluronic acid. Profhilo is injected into predetermined points around the eye area to give a "hydrolift" effect that boosts skin hydration and tightens the skin," explains Dr Elizabeth. "Hyaluronic acid – the active agent in Profhilo - can hold 1000 times its weight in water creating a significant deep moisturizing activity. In addition, Profhilo remodels the skin by stimulating elastin and collagen production, giving the skin around the eye area a firmer, plumper and smoother texture." Prices start from approximately £295 and the treatment consists of two sessions one month apart. Some improvement can be seen from one week after the first injection, but the results take full effect around one month after the second injection and will last for about six months.

Go under the knife with a blepharoplasty

Blepharoplasty is a type of surgery that can be carried out under local anaesthetic and repairs droopy eyelids by removing excess skin, muscle and fat. Blepharoplasty can reduce or eliminate vision problems and make your eyes appear younger and more alert. "The benefit of blepharoplasty is that we can achieve a beautiful and very natural look," explains Dr Hawkes. "This isn’t facelift surgery - you won’t come out looking like an entirely different version of yourself - but you will look a lot brighter, less tired and refreshed."


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