Conditions

Ptosis: Drooping Eyelid, Droopy Eyes

Woman with drooping eyelid
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Ptosis (TOE-sis) refers to drooping of an upper eyelid of one or both eyes. The droop may be barely noticeable, or the lid can descend over the entire pupil. Ptosis can affect both children and adults, but usually occurs because of aging.

Ptosis, droopy eyelid symptoms

The most obvious sign of ptosis is the drooping eyelid. Depending on how severely the lid droops, people with ptosis may have difficulty seeing. Sometimes people tilt their heads back to try to see under the lid or raise their eyebrows repeatedly to try to lift the eyelids.

The degree of droopiness varies from one person to the next. If you think you may have ptosis, compare a recent photo of your face with one from 10 or 20 years ago, and you'll likely see a difference in the eyelid skin.

Ptosis can look similar to dermatochalasis, a group of connective tissue diseases that cause skin to hang in folds. These diseases are associated with less-than-normal elastic tissue formation.

THINK YOU MIGHT HAVE PTOSIS? Find an eye doctor near you. She or he should be able to tell you the cause of and treatments for your drooping eyelids.

Ptosis: Droopy eyelid causes

Normal eyes
Droopy eyes (ptosis)

Top: normal eyelid position. Bottom: ptosis (both eyes).

Ptosis can be present at birth (congenital ptosis) or develop due to aging, injury or as an aftereffect of cataract surgery or other corrective eye surgery.

This condition also can be caused by a problem with the muscles lifting the eyelid, called levators. Sometimes a person's facial anatomy causes difficulties with the levator muscles.

An eye tumor, neurological disorder or systemic disease like diabetes are other causes of drooping eyelids.

Ptosis treatments

Surgery usually is the best treatment for drooping eyelids. Your surgeon tightens levator muscles to lift eyelids, giving you improved vision and appearance.

In very severe cases involving weakened levator muscles, your surgeon attaches the eyelid under the eyebrow. This allows the forehead muscles to substitute for levator muscles in lifting the eyelid.

Risks of surgery for ptosis

After surgery, the eyelids may not appear symmetrical, even though the lids are higher than before surgery. Very rarely, eyelid movement may be lost.

It is important to choose your surgeon carefully, since poorly done surgery could result in an undesirable appearance or in dry eyes from lifted eyelids not closing completely.

Before agreeing to ptosis surgery, ask how many procedures your surgeon has done. Also ask to see before-and-after photos of previous patients, and ask if you can talk to any of them about the experience.

Ptosis in children

Children born with moderate or severe ptosis require surgical treatment in order for proper vision to develop. Failure to treat ptosis can result in amblyopia (diminished vision in one eye) and a lifetime of poor vision.

All children with ptosis, even mild cases, should visit their

every year. The eyes change shape as they grow, and sometimes vision problems can develop if the ptosis worsens.

Droopy eyelids and hooded eyes are often confused

Droopy eyelids are not the same thing as hooded eyes. Droopy eyelids can be a sign of an underlying and often serious eye condition. Hooded eyes are hereditary and not related to any eye condition. Read more: What are hooded eyes?

WHAT ARE YOUR PTOSIS TREATMENT OPTIONS? Find an eye doctor near you. If you have ptosis, your eye doctor will discuss treatment options for your droopy eyelids.

Page updated November 2016

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