Eyelid Drooping (Ptosis) … A Closer Look

Pathologic eyelid drooping, also called ptosis, is a condition that can occur in children and adults. It affects the upper eyelid of one eye and sometimes it affects both eyes.

The degree of eyelid drooping may be minimal or in some cases can cover the pupil completely and can obstruct eyesight. Eyelid drooping can be inherited or can be present at birth. Eyelid drooping in children happens as a result of muscle weakness in the eyelid, which may also be accompanied with other muscle weakness around the eye that can cause eye squint or other eyesight flaws.

Eyelid drooping can be observed easily, where the size of the affected person’s eye may seem uneven. Also, the affected person would lift their head to see what's under the drooping eyelid, in addition to lifting one’s eye brow to try and open the eyelid as much as possible. This re-positioning of the head and eyebrow to compensate for eyesight hindrance caused by the eyelid drooping often causes headache, neck pain, and the inability to focus for long periods of time. But the biggest problem is for children, where eyesight is weakened as a result of eye laziness that happens when the child’s line of sight is obstructed by the eyelid and also because of the deviation that accompanies eyelid weakness which may cause permanent eyesight weakness.

Drooping eyelids often needs surgical intervention as it will not recover on its own with time. Early detection by a doctor is essential to determine the ideal time to perform a surgery and also the type of surgery in accordance with the eyelid’s position and the degree of its weakness. The eye doctor may administer eye supports to protect the child for eye laziness in case treatment is delayed for any reason.

Eyelid drooping treatment in adults is dependent on surgical intervention. The condition is often caused by a weakness in the eyelid muscle as a result of old age or due to trauma. The goal of drooping eyelid surgery is not only cosmetic, but also to widen the patient’s field of vision, which is often narrowed as a result of the eyelid obstructing eyesight.

Dr. Walid M. Abdalla MD, FRCS

Ophthalmology Consultant

Head of Pediatric Ophthalmology, Strabismus & Oculoplasty Unit (Plastic Eye Surgery)

Fellow at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow