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Eyelid drooping

Ptosis, Dermatochalasis; Blepharoptosis; Third nerve palsy - ptosis; Baggy eyelids

Eyelid drooping is excess sagging of the upper eyelid. The edge of the upper eyelid may be lower than it should be (ptosis) or there may be excess baggy skin in the upper eyelid (dermatochalasis). Eyelid drooping is often a combination of both conditions.

The problem is also called ptosis.

Images

Ptosis - drooping of the eyelid

Causes

A drooping eyelid is most often due to:

Drooping eyelid can be:

Diseases or illnesses that may lead to eyelid drooping include:

Symptoms

Drooping may be present in one or both eyelids depending on the cause. The lid may cover only the upper eye, or the entire pupil may be covered.

Problems with vision will often be present:

Increased tearing despite a feeling of dry eyes may be noticed.

Exams and Tests

When drooping is on one side only, it is easy to detect by comparing the two eyelids. Drooping is more difficult to detect when it occurs on both sides, or if there is only a slight problem. Comparing the current extent of drooping with the amount shown in old photos may help you detect the progression of the problem.

A physical exam will be done to determine the cause.

Tests that may be performed include:

Treatment

If a disease is found, it will be treated. Most cases of drooping eyelids are due to aging and there is no disease involved.

Eyelid lift surgery (blepharoplasty) is done to repair sagging or drooping upper eyelids.

Outlook (Prognosis)

A drooping eyelid can stay constant, worsen over time (be progressive), or come and go (be intermittent).

The expected outcome depends on the cause of the ptosis. In most cases, surgery is very successful in restoring appearance and function.

In children, more severe drooping eyelids may lead to lazy eye or amblyopia. This may result in long-term vision loss.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Contact your health care provider if:

See an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) for:

Related Information

Diabetes
Stroke
Horner syndrome
Myasthenia gravis
Brain tumor - children
Cancer
Amblyopia

References

Alghoul M. Blepharoplasty: anatomy, planning, techniques, and safety. Aesthet Surg J . 2019;39(1):10-28. PMID: 29474509 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29474509/.

Cioffi GA, Liebmann JM. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 395.

Friedman O, Zaldivar RA, Wang TD. Blepharoplasty. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 26.

Olitsky SE, Marsh JD. Abnormalities of the lids. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 642.

Vargason CW, Nerad JA. Blepharoptosis. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 12.4.

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Review Date: 8/18/2020  

Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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