Ptosis, commonly referred to as “droopy eyelid”, is the appearance of excessive sagging of the upper eyelid due to the eyelid falling in a lower position than is natural. Ptosis may occur in one or both eyes. The occurrence of this condition has a wide variety of causes. Some variations of the causes of ptosis include:
- Congenital ptosis: An infant born with ptosis is caused by underdevelopment of the levator muscle within the womb, the muscle responsible for holding the eyelid in a raised position.
- Age-related ptosis (Aponeurotic ptosis): The most common cause of ptosis is due to the natural aging processes the body undergoes due to aging. Over time, the ligaments of the muscle responsible for lifting the eyelid are stretched, and eventually cause drooping in one or both eyes.
- Myasthenia gravis: Myasthenia gravis is a rare neuromuscular disorder that causes muscle weakness as a result of impaired communication between nerve cells and muscles. Ptosis can occur as a symptom of this disorder.
- Facial muscular impairment: Whether it be a muscular injury or a muscular disorder, any circumstance that inhibits the function of the facial muscles may result in ptosis. Ptosis may appear as a symptom of muscular diseases that may be inherited, such as oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy.
- Nerve problems: The muscles of the eye rely on nerve processes to function, therefore an injury to the brain can also cause ptosis. Brain injuries can occur as a result of an aneurysm, stroke, tumor, or diabetic related nerve-damage.
What Are The Symptoms Of Ptosis?
Screening for ptosis can be done by an eye doctor who can record the precise measurements of the eye to determine the degree of ptosis. To screen oneself at home, the patient should look for the following cues while examining oneself in a mirror: that the iris above the pupil is visible, and if not, that the pupil itself be visible.
In the case that one does have ptosis, other symptoms may prevail:
- Headache (often caused by a natural raising of the eyebrow to compensate for the drooping of the eyelid)
- Loss of the crease caused by the fold of the skin between the eyelid and eyebrow
- Vision impairment (primarily caused by obstruction of the eyelid; which could be a simple as peripheral vision impairment)
If the patient has an uncomplicated condition of ptosis, the symptoms are minimal. If ptosis is the symptom of a larger medical issue, such as ptosis related to diabetic nerve-damage, the illness that is causing ptosis may be causing more severe symptoms.
How Is Ptosis Treated?
Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the condition:
- Age-related ptosis: The eyelid may be adjusted by cosmetic surgery.
- Congenital ptosis: Corrective surgery may be suggested by a doctor at an early age if the condition could result in visual development issues for the child.
If ptosis is a symptom of a larger medical issue, then a physician would treat for the illness that is causing ptosis.
Can Ptosis Be Prevented?
Excluding the prevention of injuries or illnesses that may result in ptosis, in most cases this condition cannot be prevented.
Contact a doctor immediately if eyelid drooping:
- Appears over a short period of time (within a few days to a few hours)
- Appears with symptoms of infection (redness, pain, or bulging of the eye, fever)
You should also consult medical attention if ptosis is experienced alongside:
- Double vision
- Muscular weakness in extremities
- Difficulties with motor functions (including speaking and swallowing)
- Severe headache
At Everett & Hurite, our dedicated eye specialists have years of clinical experience diagnosing and treating ptosis. Dr. Charles Kent is a seasoned oculoplastic surgeon, and will evaluate your eyelid position and determine how to customize surgery to ensure optimal results. Our 10 offices are conveniently located in Western Pennsylvania. Request an appointment with one of the physicians or call 412-288-0858 today to receive an evaluation.