Why Is My Eyelid Drooping?

Experiencing a drooping eyelid can be both a cosmetic concern and a sign of something more significant happening with your eye or neurological health. For many people, this can lead to questions and concerns for their doctor about the underlying causes and available remedies. In this post, we'll delve into one cause for a drooping eyelid - acquired blepharoptosis (commonly referred to as acquired ptosis) - and touch upon its implications, treatments, and ways to manage it.

Understanding Acquired Ptosis

Acquired ptosis is a condition characterized by the drooping of one or both eyelids. Millions of people who have acquired ptosis may not even be aware of it.1 This form of ptosis develops over time and is distinct from congenital ptosis, which is present from birth. Acquired ptosis is also distinct from low-lying lids related to neurological conditions such as stroke, brain aneurysm, and other serious diseases.

Causes of Acquired Ptosis

Acquired ptosis can result from several factors. Age is a primary contributor; as we age, the muscles responsible for lifting the eyelid, particularly the levator muscle, can weaken or stretch, leading to a droopy appearance. This natural degradation is why the condition is more commonly observed in older adults.

Beyond the aging process, acquired ptosis can also be a sequel to other eye-related surgeries, such as cataract operations or LASIK, due to the manipulation of the eyelid during the procedure. Additionally, long-term contact lens wear can contribute to this condition, as the repeated action of inserting and removing lenses can stretch and weaken the eyelid muscles.

Eyelid Drooping Symptoms and Impact

The most noticeable symptom of ptosis is the drooping eyelid itself, which can range from mild to severe. In more pronounced cases, the drooping eyelid can begin to interfere with vision by covering part of the pupil. This can lead to issues such as astigmatism, blurred vision, and eye strain as the individual strains to elevate the eyelid unconsciously. For many people, ptosis can contribute to a tired or aged appearance, affecting one's self-esteem and social interactions.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Drooping Eyelids

Only 15% of people who have acquired ptosis are diagnosed2. Diagnosing ptosis involves a thorough eye examination by an eye care professional. They may perform visual field tests to determine the extent to which the drooping eyelid affects vision and eyelid measurements to assess the severity of the droop. Treatment for acquired ptosis depends on the severity of the condition and its impact on the individual's life. It can include surgical and non-surgical options (such as eye drops).

Understanding Your Drooping Eyelid

While a drooping eyelid can be a source of concern and discomfort, understanding if acquired ptosis is the cause can provide a pathway to addressing and managing the condition. If you notice changes in your eyelid's position or function, consulting with an eye care professional is the first step towards diagnosis and treatment.
With the right care and intervention, it's possible to improve not just the functionality of your eyelid but also how you feel about your eye appearance. Remember, droopy eyes don't have to be your reality; options and support are available to help you see the world more clearly and confidently.

1,2 *Estimate of prevalence was calculated using both U.S. Census data and a published study by Sridharan et al. (1995). The Sridharan study observed a prevalence rate of 11.5% (n=400), which was then applied to the US Census’ projected 2020 population of Americans aged 50+ years.