Ptosis or blepharoptosis are the medical terms used to describe a drooping eyelid. In the condition, the lower portion of the top eyelid begins to sag or droop, possibly to the point of vision interference. The condition can leave patients feeling self-conscious about their appearance while also inhibiting their ability to see clearly. It can even to lead to safety concerns, particularly during certain vision-based activities such as driving.
Causes of a Drooping Eyelid
A sagging eyelid is not always the result of age. In fact, there are many conditions which can result in this type of drooping, including:
As the name suggests, congenital ptosis is a condition that is present from birth. It is due to underdevelopment of the muscles responsible for maintaining the eyelid’s position. In the vast majority of cases, congenital ptosis affects only a single eye. Depending on the severity of the condition and potential vision interference, surgical repair may be required.
When a sagging eyelid is the result of age, it is known as aponeurotic ptosis. As we grow older, all skin begins to lose its elasticity, including the skin surrounding the eyes. Thanks to time and gravity, eyelids may begin to droop more and more. This drooping may be bilateral, or it may be worse on one side.
Muscle movements are controlled by nerves that transmit signals from the brain. When injury affects these nerves, it can result in weakness or paralysis of the muscles they control. Situations which may impact the nerves responsible for the eyelid include stroke, diabetes, brain tumor and brain aneurysm.
Myasthenia gravis is a rare medical disorder that impacts the way muscles receive and respond to information from nerves. Over time, the affected muscles may become weaker and sagging can result. This condition may affect not only the eyelids, but other facial muscles, extremities, and other body parts as well.
Ptosis can also be the result of one of two forms of muscle disease. The first, oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy, leads to progressive weakness of muscles in the upper eyelids and throat. It is a rare disorder that most often begins between the ages of 40 and 60. The second is a condition most often seen in early adulthood called progressive external ophthalmoplegia. It is characterized by loss of muscle function in the eye an eyelid and can lead to paralysis of the eye and drooping of the eyelid.
Treating a Drooping Eyelid
Treatment for a drooping eyelid will depend on the underlying cause. However, in the case of aponeurotic ptosis, the most common cause of drooping eyelids in adults, a simple surgical procedure known as blepharoplasty can help. For the best and safest results, this procedure is best performed by a skilled ophthalmologist who has intimate knowledge and extensive education surrounding the delicate eye area. To learn more about this procedure, click below to request a consultation with Eye Specialists of Louisiana.