Ptosis is the medical term for a drooping upper eyelid. This problem affects approximately 5 percent of the population and can affect vision and appearance. The prevalence of this condition increases in the elderly.
Eyelid ptosis can occur from many causes. The most common cause is aging, when the eyelid lifting muscle weakens with advancing age. The weakened muscle does not have the same lifting ability and hence the eyelid droops. Some patients are born with a congenital defect in the muscle also causing ptosis. Other risk factors for the development of eyelid ptosis include trauma, contact lens wear, and some neurological conditions. In addition, with aging, excess skin and bags around the eyes can also develop, leading to the tired, sleepy look.
The condition can be either unilateral (one side) or bilateral (both sides). When the drooping is mild, it may be barely noticeable and not impair vision. When severe, the upper eyelid can encroach upon the pupil, causing loss of peripheral vision (side vision). The central visual acuity, the vision necessary for reading an eye chart, is usually not impaired. A special test called, a visual field test, can be performed to determine if vision is affected by the eyelid ptosis. In some cases, if the vision loss is severe, medical insurance may cover some or all of the costs for surgery. Some patients elect to have the surgery for cosmetic reasons.
Surgery can be performed to repair drooping eyelids and restore them to their natural shape and contour. The procedure is performed usually under local anesthesia as an outpatient. The procedure is painless, takes less than an hour and patients can usually resume their normal activities in about a week