The permanent drooping of the eyelid
Ptosis refers to the permanent drooping of the upper eyelid. It is caused by the inability of its muscle, called the levator, to fully lift it from the eye.
Depending on the severity of the condition, ptosis may be treated from either a medical or cosmetic point of view.
What To Look For
The foremost symptom of ptosis is an eyelid that sags or droops. Both children born with the condition and adults who develop ptosis late in life will often tilt their heads back or lift their eyebrows in an expression of surprise in order to see.
Among other symptoms, lax eyelids may cause headaches and browaches, obscure the vision or irritate the eye.
Ptosis and Appearance
The tone and shape of the eyelids, eyebrows, forehead, and tissue that surrounds your eyes should give you a look of vitality and vigor. Children who suffer from ptosis may be forced to endure the taunts of their peers; ptosis in adults may make one look old, inattentive and dull.
What To Do
Children born with a drooping eyelid are said to have congenital ptosis. It is a condition which does not improve on its own.
If the ptosis is severe in children, fully or partially covering the pupil of the eye, it can lead to amblyopia, or "lazy eye," and a permanent loss of vision. In some cases ptosis is also related to astigmatism, an irregularity in the shape of the cornea that causes blurred vision.
In older adults, ptosis may develop following cataract or other eye surgery, or as a complication of diabetes, kidney disease or allergies. The condition may also be the result of an eyelid tumor which restricts the action of the levator.
Although mild causes in juveniles may be monitored by an eye doctor, the accepted treatment for severe ptosis is surgery. If you suspect ptosis, we urge you to call our office to arrange a consultation.
Ptosis surgery is designed to tighten the levator muscle by shortening it slightly to allow sufficient "lift" for the eyelid.
In some cases where the levator is exceptionally weak, the eyelid is attached to the brow muscles, allowing the forehead to elevate the lid.
Modern eyelid surgical procedures are quite safe and can often be performed under local anesthetic on a same-day, outpatient basis. Once healed, the thread-thin scars are virtually invisible.
After the procedure, you will likely experience some discomfort, and the upper eyelids may feel "tight" at first, although this condition will become comfortable after a few days. As with any surgery, swelling, discoloration and minor bleeding are common, but this will be temporary.
Some find they cannot fully close their eyes for a few days following surgery, but this is customarily handled with eye drops and ointments. Although improvement in the condition can almost always be expected, a few find their eyelids do not precisely align or that full eyelid movement is not realized. Ask your doctor about the results you can expect during your initial consultation.
After about ten days the stitches can be removed, and cosmetics can be applied within ten days thereafter. You should be able to return to essentially routine living within a few weeks.
Whether treatment of ptosis is for medical or cosmetic reasons, it is usually a straightforward surgical procedure with a high rate of success.