Eye Health: Everything You Need to Know about Ptosis

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If you find your vision is being affected by a drooping eyelid, you may have a condition opticians refer to as ptosis. The eyelid skin drops into the field of vision, either completely obscuring sight or causing extreme annoyance because it partially blocks it. Ptosis may occur in both eyes or just one.

What Causes Ptosis?

Ptosis can be due to an inheritable congenital defect, and a child with the condition will have a noticeably drooping eyelid. A child may try to overcompensate for the reduced vision by keeping his head back and chin tipped up.

Ptosis in adults is often common as a result of advanced age and excess wrinkles in the eye area. It can also occur from a stroke or a condition known as Bell's palsy, in which the nerve controlling facial movements is damaged, resulting in weakness or paralysis in the facial muscles. Myasthenia gravis, another frequent cause of ptosis, is similar to Bell's palsy, but it is a chronic autoimmune disease with no cure.

How Is Ptosis Diagnosed?

Even mild ptosis is easy to visibly diagnose, but the underlying cause needs to be determined. In addition to a complete medical history and eye exam, the optician may refer you for additional medical testing with a specialist.

How Can Ptosis Be Treated?

One of the easiest ptosis treatments is known as an eyeglass crutch. A little piece of wire can be welded to the top edge of a metal-framed pair of eyeglasses. This basically holds back and up the skin of the drooping eyelid, preventing the vision from being impaired.

While an eyeglass crutch is a relatively inexpensive and quick fix, it is usually only best used as a temporary solution. With a crutch, you will not be able to easily blink. Blinking plays an important role in keeping the eye clean, protected, and well-lubricated. The eye can become quickly irritated and dry; therefore, lubricating eye drops will be required frequently.

Surgery is the best option for a long-term solution. In the case of children, it is generally delayed until the child reaches preschool age. By waiting, it gives the opportunity to see if normal growth and development will fix the problem.

Older adults and those with underlying medical conditions typically have a weakened levator muscle, the tiny little muscle that hold the delicate eyelid up. Surgery is done to retighten this muscle. The surgery is ideally performed by a board certified ophthalmologist who specializes in reconstructive eye surgery.