male with ptosis

Have you ever noticed someone with a drooping eyelid, or perhaps you’ve even experienced it yourself? Ptosis, the medical term for a drooping eyelid, is a condition that can affect people of all ages. It not only impacts one’s appearance, but it can also cause vision problems if left untreated. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available for ptosis, you’ll be better equipped to address this condition and safeguard your vision.

Key Takeaways

  • Ptosis is a drooping eyelid disorder with two primary forms, congenital and acquired.
  • Symptoms range from mild to severe and should be treated as soon as possible.
  • Treatment options include surgical intervention or non-surgical methods such as eye patches, eyeglasses, ptosis crutches or prescription drops.

Understanding Ptosis

Ptosis is a condition characterized by the drooping of the upper eyelid, and it can be classified into two main categories: congenital and acquired ptosis. Congenital ptosis is present at birth and results from issues with the levator muscle, while acquired ptosis develops later in life due to various factors.

We will now examine these two types of ptosis and their implications in depth.

Congenital Ptosis

Congenital ptosis occurs when the levator muscle responsible for lifting the eyelid is underdeveloped at birth. This inadequate development of the levator muscle leads to droopy eyelids. As a result, children with congenital ptosis may experience vision problems, such as amblyopia or “lazy eye”. This disorder can delay or limit their vision, putting them at a disadvantage during their crucial developmental years.

The potential complications associated with congenital ptosis include amblyopia and astigmatism. To prevent these complications, various treatment options are available. Children with ptosis might use an eye patch, special eyeglasses, or eyedrops to support the weaker eye. If the vision remains unaltered, surgery might be postponed, and an eye specialist can help determine the best course of action.

Early treatment of congenital ptosis is necessary to prevent long-term vision problems and to aid children in developing their full visual potential. Surgical intervention, in particular, can play a crucial role in correcting this condition and improving the child’s quality of life.

Acquired Ptosis

Unlike congenital ptosis, acquired ptosis develops later in life and can result from various factors, including:

  • Aging
  • Eye injuries
  • Medical conditions
  • Side effects of eye surgery

One specific type of acquired ptosis is involutional ptosis, which affects adults when the levator muscle stretches and separates from the eyelid, causing poor muscle function.

Involutional ptosis can occur due to aging, eye injury, or as a side effect of certain eye surgeries, which may lead to severe ptosis in some cases. The consequences of acquired ptosis can be both cosmetic and functional, as it may cause vision problems, discomfort, and self-consciousness about one’s appearance.

Acquired ptosis should be addressed to help individuals maintain their quality of life and vision as they age. Treatment options may vary depending on the cause and severity of the condition, but often include surgical intervention to correct the issue and restore normal eyelid function.

Symptoms of Drooping Eyelids

Symptoms of drooping eyelids can range from mild to severe and may include obstructed vision, eye strain, and cosmetic concerns. These symptoms can worsen over time, potentially leading to more serious issues if left untreated. For instance, if one’s droopy eyelid impedes their vision, it’s advised to avoid driving until the matter has been addressed and ptosis diagnosed by a medical professional. As eyelids droop, it’s crucial to seek medical attention to prevent further complications.

Recognizing the symptoms of ptosis and seeking immediate medical attention can prevent further deterioration. Early intervention is key to avoiding long-term complications and ensuring the best possible outcome for your vision and appearance.

Diagnosing Ptosis

When diagnosing ptosis, an ophthalmologist will:

  • Review the patient’s symptoms, medical and family history
  • Conduct a complete eye exam, measuring the height of the patient’s eyelids and assessing the strength of their eye muscles
  • In some cases, additional tests may be necessary, such as blood tests or imaging tests like a CT scan or an MRI scan.

Determining the most appropriate treatment plan for the individual requires a thorough diagnosis. By understanding the root cause of the ptosis and assessing the severity of the condition, the ophthalmologist can recommend the best course of action to address the problem and improve the patient’s quality of life.

Treatment Options for Ptosis

Various treatment options are available for ptosis, depending on the severity and cause of the condition. These can range from surgical to non-surgical methods, each with its own set of benefits and potential risks.

Now, we will detail the different treatment options.

Ptosis Surgery

Ptosis surgery is a common and effective treatment option that involves different surgical approaches, including:

  1. Tightening the levator muscle
  2. Using a frontalis sling fixation to lift the eyelid
  3. The external approach (levator advancement)
  4. The internal approach (shortening the eyelid muscles from within)
  5. Frontalis sling fixation (attaching the upper eyelid to the frontalis muscle using a silicone rod)

These approaches can help lift the upper eyelids and improve the appearance and function of the eye by targeting the eyelid muscle, especially when upper eyelids sag.

While ptosis surgery is generally a safe and effective procedure, there are potential risks and complications associated with it. These may include dry eyes, a scratched cornea, and hematoma (a collection of blood). Being evaluated by an experienced oculoplastic surgeon before undergoing ptosis surgery can minimize these risks.

During ptosis surgery, local anesthesia with sedation is typically used. Post-surgery, patients may experience temporary side effects such as dryness or an inability to fully close the eye. These side effects can be managed with the use of eye drops and ointment to lubricate the eye.

Non-Surgical Treatments

For those who are not candidates for surgery or prefer a less invasive approach, non-surgical treatments for ptosis are available. These options include wearing an eye patch, special eyeglasses, or using a ptosis crutch to support the drooping eyelid. Ptosis crutches come in adjustable and reinforced varieties and can be a helpful solution for those with milder cases of ptosis.

Another non-surgical treatment option for certain types of acquired ptosis is the use of prescription eye drops, such as oxymetazoline. These eye drops can temporarily alleviate symptoms and improve the appearance of drooping eyelids. It is, however, necessary to consult with an eye specialist to determine the most suitable treatment for your specific case.

Choosing an Oculoplastic Surgeon

Successful ptosis treatment relies on the selection of an experienced oculoplastic surgeon. These specialized surgeons have:

  • Extensive training in eyelid and facial procedures
  • Board certification in ophthalmology
  • Additional training in oculoplastic surgery
  • Experience in performing ptosis surgery

Choosing an oculoplastic surgeon with these qualifications ensures that the surgery is performed safely and effectively.

A thorough discussion with your oculoplastic surgeon is necessary before committing to ptosis surgery. Ask questions about:

  • The specific procedure they recommend
  • The associated risks and benefits
  • The estimated recovery time
  • The post-operative care required

This conversation will help you make an informed decision and ensure that you are comfortable with the chosen treatment plan.

Recovery and Post-Operative Care

Following ptosis surgery, it is important to:

  • Care for your eye as instructed by your surgeon
  • Avoid activities that may cause irritation or rubbing of the eye
  • Attend any recommended follow-up appointments with your surgeon

Closely following these instructions and attending follow-up appointments is crucial for proper healing and recovery.

During the recovery process, you may experience some side effects, such as dryness or a temporary inability to close the eye. Medication or other treatments can manage these side effects to ensure that the eye remains adequately lubricated.

Adhering to your surgeon’s guidance and proper eye care can ensure a smooth recovery and allow you to enjoy the benefits of your ptosis treatment.


In conclusion, ptosis is a condition that affects individuals of all ages and can have both cosmetic and functional implications. By understanding the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options available for ptosis, you can take proactive steps to address this condition and protect your vision. Whether you choose surgical or non-surgical treatment, the key to success lies in working closely with an experienced oculoplastic surgeon and following their guidance throughout the process. Don’t let drooping eyelids hold you back – take control of your vision and your appearance today.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Q: What is ptosis?
    A: Ptosis is a medical condition characterized by drooping or sagging of the upper eyelid.
  2. Q: What are the common causes of ptosis?
    A: Ptosis can be caused by various factors, including age-related muscle weakness, trauma, nerve damage, congenital conditions, or certain medical conditions like myasthenia gravis.
  3. Q: What are the symptoms of ptosis?
    A: The main symptom of ptosis is the drooping of the upper eyelid, which can obstruct vision or cause an asymmetrical appearance. Other symptoms may include eye fatigue, eyebrow strain, or compensatory forehead wrinkling.
  4. Q: Can ptosis affect both eyes?
    A: Yes, ptosis can affect one or both eyes, depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition.
  5. Q: Is ptosis a common condition?
    A: Ptosis can occur in people of all ages, but it is more commonly seen in older adults due to age-related muscle weakness. It is not considered a common condition in the general population.
  6. Q: How is ptosis diagnosed?
    A: A medical professional, usually an ophthalmologist, can diagnose ptosis through a physical examination, evaluating the eyelid position, and muscle strength, and assessing any associated symptoms.
  7. Q: What are the available treatment options for ptosis?
    A: Treatment options for ptosis can vary depending on the underlying cause and severity. They may include surgical correction, using special eyeglasses or contact lenses, or managing any underlying medical conditions contributing to ptosis.
  8. Q: Can ptosis be treated without surgery?
    A: In mild cases, where ptosis does not significantly affect vision or cause discomfort, non-surgical approaches such as using eyelid crutches or special eyewear may be considered. However, surgical intervention is often required to achieve long-term improvement.
  9. Q: Is ptosis a permanent condition?
    A: The prognosis for ptosis depends on the underlying cause and the chosen treatment method. In some cases, ptosis may resolve on its own or with treatment, while in others, it may require ongoing management or surgical correction.
  10. Q: Can ptosis affect children?
    A: Yes, ptosis can affect children and may be present at birth (congenital ptosis) or develop later in childhood due to various causes. It is important for children with ptosis to be evaluated by a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate treatment approach.


  1. “Ptosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.” Mayo Clinic,
  2. “Ptosis: Diagnosis and Treatment.” American Academy of Ophthalmology,
  3. “Ptosis (Drooping Eyelid) – an Overview.” American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus,
  4. “Congenital Ptosis.” National Organization for Rare Disorders,
  5. “Acquired Ptosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic,
  6. “Ptosis: Overview and Management.” British Journal of Ophthalmology,
  7. “Surgical Management of Ptosis.” Journal of Ophthalmology,
  8. “Botulinum Toxin Injection for the Treatment of Ptosis.” American Journal of Ophthalmology,


Photo graph of Dr. Conlon operating with loops on.

Dr. M. Ronan Conlon started his career in the field of ophthalmology at the same time as the development of refractive eye surgery in Canada. In 1996, he brought laser technology to Canada from Germany, which allowed him to perform laser eye surgery before it was available in the United States. With the establishment of the Conlon Eye Institute, Dr. Conlon has performed more than 40,000 refractive procedures and has advanced his expertise in LASIK and refractive cataract surgery.

The information on this page should not be used in place of information provided by a doctor or specialist.


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