Drooping Eyelid (Ptosis)

What is a drooping eyelid?

A drooping eyelid may sag slightly or it may cover the center of your eye and block vision. One or both eyelids may droop. Drooping of the upper eyelid is also called ptosis.

What is the cause?

The most common cause of a drooping eyelid in adults is a loosening or stretching of the muscles that lift your eyelid. This may happen as a result of aging, eye surgeries, or injuries around your eye.

Drooping eyelids may also be caused by a nerve problem, a stroke, or a tumor.

What are the symptoms?

The drooping eyelid is the main symptom of ptosis. Other symptoms may include:

  • Tilting your head back or raising your eyebrows to lift your eyelid
  • Loss of vision, especially in the upper part of your field of vision
  • Headache or eyebrow ache from constantly trying to lift your eyelids

How is it diagnosed?

Your eye care provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history, examine you, and do a visual field test, which uses spots of light to measure your central vision and how well you see things on all sides. You may be tested again with your eyelids taped up to see how your vision would improve if your eyelids were surgically lifted.

If your eye care provider suspects that your drooping eyelid is caused by a nerve problem or other healthcare condition, you may need blood tests or other exams.

How is it treated?

If drooping eyelids are not causing any vision problems, often nothing has to be done. If there are problems with vision or appearance, surgery can be done to tighten the muscles that lift your eyelid or raise your eyebrow.

If a drooping eyelid is the result of muscle or nerve disease, treating the disease can help the drooping eyelid.

How can I take care of myself?

Follow the full course of treatment your healthcare provider prescribes. Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • What activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/wilmer/
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-12-31
Last reviewed: 2014-10-27
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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