Droopy eyelids, also known as ptosis, is an excess sagging of the upper eyelid. While in some cases this can simply be a cosmetic issue, severe ptosis, where the upper eyelid sags over the pupil or the majority of the eye, can result in partially or completely obstructed vision.
Ptosis can be caused by a number of factors. While it is most common in older and elderly individuals, as it is often a result of the natural ageing process (which results in muscle or tendon stretching and a loss of elasticity in the skin), it can also be congenital ptosis, which means it is present from birth. Trauma and injury can also cause ptosis, as can neurological factors.
In order to diagnose the cause of your drooping eyelid, your doctor or ophthalmologist will perform a physical exam. You may also wish to opt into a general medical examination to rule out any underlying medical causes.
In some cases, droopy eyelids may simply be the result of weakened muscles and a loss of elasticity in the skin resulting from age or can be present from birth. However, there are some medical conditions that can cause drooping eyelids, in which case medical attention may be required.
While drooping eyelids may be the result of a medical condition, this is more likely the case when the drooping affects both eyelids. If just one eyelid is drooping, this can be the result of an injury, or a stye. Surgery, such as LASIK or cataract surgery, can also cause drooping of one eyelid, since these types of surgery can stretch or damage the eyelid muscles.
If both eyelids begin to droop — especially if this happens suddenly — it may be a sign of a serious underlying medical condition. Severe cases of ptosis can be caused by stroke, a brain tumour, or nerve cancer. Some neurological disorders can also cause drooping eyelids. If you are concerned, be sure to see your doctor or visit an emergency room, if you develop drooping eyelids and/or any other medical symptoms rapidly or suddenly.
In the event that your ptosis is caused by an underlying condition, that condition will be treated rather than the ptosis itself. Usually, treatment of the medical condition that is causing drooping eyelids will resolve the drooping eyelids themselves.
If your drooping eyelids are not serious enough that they are impacting your vision, your doctor may tell you that treatment is not necessary. However, if you are still bothered by the effect your ptosis has on your overall appearance, you may opt for plastic surgery.
A ptosis crutch is a type of eyeglass that holds up the eyelid. These glasses are a non-surgical way to correct eyelid sagging if surgery is not necessary, or if you are not a suitable candidate for ptosis surgery.
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Eyelid surgery, also known as blepharoplasty, can be used to address ptosis. Blepharoplasty is a type of plastic surgery that can be used to remove or tighten sagging skin, bulging fat, and excess muscle around the eyes, including the eyelids. This solution is most commonly chosen by those whose ptosis is a cosmetic concern, rather than a medical concern.
If the ptosis is a medical concern, your doctor may recommend ptosis surgery. During this procedure, a surgeon or surgeons will tighten your levator muscle, which will lift the eyelid up into the desired position. For young children with ptosis, this surgery is commonly recommended as a preventative measure against the development of lazy eye (amblyopia). A “sling” operation, during which the forehead muscles are used to elevate the upper lid, is an alternative to ptosis surgery that may also be effective.
Blepharoplasty (also referred to as Eyelid surgery) removes or tightens sagging skin around the eyes, resulting in a smoother, more youthful appearance.
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