Surgical Options for Fixing Eyelid Issues

There is nothing more frustrating than a condition that affects any of the five crucial senses, sight in particular. Ptosis (pronounced TOE-sis), a drooping or falling of either the upper or lower eyelid, is a rather common condition that can affect anyone and, if severe enough, can make it very difficult or even impossible to see. A droopy eyelid, sometimes mistaken as a “lazy eye” (or amblyopia), can affect one or both eyes and can be hardly noticeable or completely blinding. If left untreated, it could even lead to other eye-related conditions like amblyopia or astigmatism, so it is incredibly important that it is treated as soon as it’s noticed.

A droopy eyelid occurs when the muscles that raise the eyelid are not strong enough to do so properly. There are two types of droopy eyelids: acquired and congenital. Acquired is when the condition presents itself sometime after birth and is the most common type. It is often caused by the muscles that lift the eyelid, called levators, becoming weak or stretched over time or other damage to the levators.

Acquired ptosis can develop with age, trauma or injury to the levators, the result of eye surgery, a side effect of opioids (morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone), or even from a disease or psychological disorder. There are several risk factors that can increase the possibility of developing a droopy eyelid, such as aging, family history of the condition, diabetes, stroke, or muscular dystrophy.

Congenital ptosis is present from birth and is usually because of the improper of development of the eyelid muscles. It is important to treat congenital droopy eyelids early in a child’s life to prevent further conditions form developing.

A droopy eyelid can be more than just an aesthetic condition. It can interfere with vision and lead to headaches from the stress of trying to properly raise the eyelid(s). A patient with one or more droopy eyelids may also have difficulty shutting or opening the affected eye (or eyes), have saggy skin around the eyelid(s), or need to tilt backwards in order to see better. Double vision is also common. If left untreated, ptosis can also lead to other, more serious and more difficult to fix conditions, like amblyopia or astigmatism.

Luckily treatment for a droopy eyelid is quite easy, even if surgery is needed in the most severe of cases. If the symptoms are mild enough, treatment might not even be necessary at all. The next level of treatment would be simple eye exercises to strengthen the weak levators.

Treatment is most often directed at the underlying causes, but some severe cases require a surgical procedure called blepharoplasty. Blepharoplasty involves a manual tightening of the levators in order to properly life the eyelid; this is done by shortening the muscle, using a small synthetic suture, or using a tendon taken from the outer thigh. Surgery for a droopy eyelid I relatively quick and painless, but there is some discomfort and sensitivity around the eye immediately following the procedure.

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