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Ptosis (drooping eyelids)

Ptosis (drooping eyelids)

Ptosis (drooping eyelids)

Nov 16, 2019

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A drooping or sagging of the eyelid(s) is medically known as ptosis or blepharoptosis. Drooping eyelids may occur in one eye (unilateral), in which case it is more noticeable, or on both eyes (bilateral). It can be present since birth (congenital ptosis) or can develop later (acquired ptosis).

Note: Ptosis is not a disease, but a symptom of another condition that must be treated.

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Depending upon the severity of the condition, drooping eyelids may or may not be noticeable. Upper eyelid drooping can sometimes affect your vision if the drooping is severe, and should be brought to the attention of your ophthalmologist.

Causes of ptosis

Ptosis can be caused by a number of factors that affect the muscles, nerves, or skin of the eyelids. Some of these causes include

  • Sagging of the skin and connective tissues occurring during the normal aging process
  • Nerve damage, for instance, Horner syndrome—combination of drooping of the eyelid (ptosis) and constriction of the pupil (miosis)
  • Stroke and other brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and some forms of lung cancer can cause Horner syndrome and in turn ptosis
  • Neuromuscular disorders like, Myasthenia gravis (MG) can cause ptosis as it affects the way nerves and muscles communicate
  • Diabetes may also increase your risk of ptosis
  • Cluster headaches—severe headaches that strike in a frequent pattern for a period of time and then disappear

In rare cases, tumors of the brain or eye also cause ptosis or drooping eyelids.

Symptoms of ptosis

The foremost symptom is drooping or one or both eyelids, especially, the upper eyelid. Frequent eyebrow raising and head tilting can indicate that ptosis is interfering with normal eyesight.

How is ptosis diagnosed and treated?

Regular eye check-ups and examinations are the best way to keep ptosis and other eye problems at bay. Blood tests used to detect diabetes and autoimmune conditions can also help diagnose ptosis. Depending on the severity of ptosis, the doctor may even perform X-rays to see if structural abnormalities around the eye(s) are causing any problem.

The treatment of ptosis varies as per its cause. If ptosis is caused due to another condition or disease such as, diabetes, myasthenia gravis, spinal cord injuries, tumors, nerve damage, or cancer, treatments concerning these are undertaken. In cases of congenital ptosis and ptosis occurring as a part of the normal aging process (aponeurotic ptosis), surgery may be required.

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