Ptosis is the medical term for a drooping eyelid. Also known as ‘droopy eyelid’, ptosis describes the eyelid drooping or sagging more than would normal.
Should you have a droopy eyelid or eyelids and wish to talk with an eye consultant about treatment options, please contact us to book an appointment.
Ptosis is a condition affecting the eyelid; specifically, it describes the edge of the upper eyelid drooping down over the eye.
Ptosis can be present from birth, usually as a result of a defect in the muscle that lifts the eyelid up, the levator muscle. It may also be caused by a weakness in or stretching of the tendon that connects the levator muscle to the eyelid, the aponeurosis tendon.
A drooping eyelid can also develop later in life for a number of reasons, including but not limited to:
Usually, a drooping eyelid is primarily seen as a cosmetic issue. However, where the droop is more pronounced, it may impact upon your vision.
A drooping eyelid can also make it harder to keep your eyes open, potentially leading to eye strain over time. It may also make it difficult to read without tiring your eyes.
Should you be experiencing ongoing or debilitating problems as a result of a drooping eyelid, it is sensible to consult with an eye consultant (ophthalmologist) for expert assessment, advice and treatment.
The exact treatment option used to treat your drooping eyelid will depend on the cause and the extent of it. Usually, surgery will be carried out to correct the more severe or debilitating cases.
Eyelid surgery aims to correct a drooping eyelid by tightening the muscle that raises it (the levator muscle) or the tendon connecting the eyelid to the levator muscle (the aponeurosis tendon).
The surgery is carried out under local anaesthetic, meaning you are awake but the area around your eyelid is numb so that you don’t feel any pain. In some cases, the surgery is done under general anaesthetic, but this will be decided in advance by your consultant and the anaesthetist.
Before the surgery begins, anaesthetic eyedrops will be put into your eyes in order to numb them. You will then be given a number of injections of local anaesthetic to further numb the eyelid (these may cause a slight stinging sensation for a short period of time).
Once the local anaesthetic has taken full effect, the operation will begin.
The exact method taken by the surgeon will depend upon the cause of your drooping, but precise cuts (incisions) will be made at certain points around the eyelid in order to allow access to the muscle or tendon that is to be tightened. Once the muscle or tendon has been shortened to the correct length, non-dissolving stitches are used to fix everything in place (these are usually removed within three weeks of having the surgery). A protective pad is placed around the eye.
The surgery usually takes between 45-60 minutes per eye and you will be able to return home shortly afterwards, once everything has been thoroughly checked by the surgical team at St Joseph’s.
Due to the nature of the surgery, it is recommended to take some time off work following the operation, in order to give yourself time to adequately recover. You should not drive too soon after the operation, and your surgeon will be able to give you guidance about when you can start to drive again.
You may be given some medication to promote healing and prevent infection, and it is important you follow the instructions you are given about using these. You will have an appointment booked with us within a week or two of the operation, to assess your recovery and to check everything is healing nicely. Should you have any queries or concerns at any stage, you should contact our ophthalmology team for help.
Any surgical procedure carries risks and the potential for complications, including:
Complications and risks specific to surgery for a drooping eyelid include:
The above risks are intended as guidelines only and are not exhaustive. We always recommend that you talk with your consultant about potential risks and complications before you decide to have any surgery.
Should you choose to have surgery to correct a droopy eyelid, please contact us to arrange a consultation with one of our experienced eye consultants.
They will carry out a thorough eye examination to determine the extent of your eyelid droop and the cause, and then advise you whether surgery is recommended.
© St. Joseph's Hospital 2019