Ptosis

Ptosis (pronounced TOE-sis) is the medical term for drooping eyelids. A person with ptosis is not able to lift one or both upper eyelids to uncover the eye completely. Ptosis may occur for several reasons such as: disease, injury, birth defect, previous eye surgery and age. In most cases, it is caused by either a weakness of the levator muscle (muscle that raises the lid), or a problem with the nerve that sends messages to the muscle.

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Children born with ptosis may require surgical correction of the lid if it covers the pupil. In some cases, it may be associated with a crossed or misaligned eye (strabismus). Left untreated, ptosis may prevent vision from developing properly, resulting in amblyopia, or lazy eye.

Patients with ptosis often have difficult blinking, which may lead to irritation, infection and eyestrain. If a sudden and obvious lid droop is developed, an ophthalmologist should be consulted immediately.

The causes of ptosis are quite diverse. The symptoms are dependent on the underlying problem and may include:

  • Drooping lid (may affect one or both eyes)
  • Irritation
  • Difficulty closing the eye completely
  • Eye fatigue from straining to keep eye open
  • Children may tilt head backward in order to lift the lid
  • Crossed or misaligned eye
  • Double vision

Many people want to correct ptosis because it damages their appearance. In most cases, the sagging upper eyelid results in a loss of the superior (upper) field of vision. In severe cases, ptosis may be present at birth and, if left untreated, can permanently damage vision by forcing the unaffected eye to do all the work while letting the affected eye degenerate.


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