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Did you know that- after the brain- your eyes are one of the most intricate functions of the human body? Yep. In fact, one single eye consists of more than two million working parts.
When they’re fully functioning and working properly, your eyes are your literal window to the world. But when something messes with your vision, your quality of life is greatly impacted.
Made up of two folds of the thinnest skin on your body, your eyelids serve incredibly important purposes- like protecting your eyeballs from foreign objects, light and dryness. However, eyelids can sometimes droop lower than they should- which is what we’re going to cover today.
If you are starting to notice that your eyelid is sagging, or your lids seem heavier than usual, you could be experiencing ptosis (pronounced “TOE-sis”). Keep reading to learn about what causes ptosis, how to treat it, and what causes droopy eyelids in the first place.
Named after the Greek word for “falling,” ptosis- also called blepharoptosis- is simply the medical term for drooping eyelids.
When it comes to this common condition, you can expect to experience anything from a slight eyelid sag, to your upper eyelid completely covering your pupil (the black dot in the center of your eye that lets light in). The most obvious sign of ptosis is a drooping eyelid on one eye (unilateral ptosis) or both eyes (bilateral ptosis).
Even if you have perfect 20/20 vision, droopy eyelids can limit- or even completely obstruct- your healthy eyesight. People of all ages can be affected by this condition. In fact, babies are sometimes born with it, though this is rare.
There are a number of reasons why you might be experiencing drooping eyelids. In many cases, ptosis either appeared in childhood and is related to a genetic condition, or it happens gradually as the eyelid muscles stretch out.
Age also plays a large factor in triggering ptosis. As your body ages, your skin naturally loses a little bit of its elasticity; the effect is most obvious on your face- especially around your eyes. Even though this sagging might seem a bit unnatural, we’re here to assure you that ptosis is a normal part of the aging process.
In some cases, ptosis is caused by a serious condition, like a stroke, brain tumor, or cancer. If one side of your face or one eye is drooping suddenly, this could indicate a stroke, which is a medical emergency. Call 911 if this happens.
Another potential cause of ptosis is Botox injections– which partially paralyzes the muscles in the eyebrow or eyelid. If this happens, your droopy eyelid should typically subside in about 4-6 weeks after your treatment. If it doesn’t, call your doctor and schedule a follow-up exam to figure out what’s going on.
Treatment for ptosis varies depending on the specific cause and severity of your condition. If sagging lids interfere with your ability to see- or is messing with your quality of life- talk with your doctor about the treatment options available, of which there are several!
If you want to fix your droopy eyelids, here are some of the more common ways of treating ptosis:
The easiest, least-invasive way to treat ptosis is by doing a few simple eye exercises.
According to the National Stroke Association, “working out” your eyelids every hour, every day may greatly improve your drooping eyelids. Dedicate a little bit of time each day to doing some eye exercises, and you should see some improvements in your droopy eyelid!
Another way of easily treating droopy eyelids is by using eye drops. In mild cases, studies show that iopidine eye drops may speed up muscle recovery by causing your eyelids to contract quickly- mimicking ptosis eye exercises.
There’s a chance- depending on the severity of your ptosis- that your eye doctor may recommend surgery. For more severe cases of ptosis, this would likely involve an upper eyelid blepharoplasty- a very popular plastic surgery technique that simply tightens and raises the droopy eyelid.
Blepharoplasty surgery can be performed on either your top eyelid, bottom eyelid, or both- depending on where you’re experiencing the ptosis.
Currently, there is no foolproof way of preventing ptosis. Anyone can experience droopy eyelids, and there aren’t really any noticeable differences in prevalence of ptosis between men and women.
You can, however, get on top of the situation by going in for yearly eye exams, adding preventative eye exercises to your lifestyle, and by taking good care of your eyes.
We also suggest that you avoid excessively rubbing your eyes and using contacts, as this added irritation can increase your chances of developing ptosis.
As a general rule of thumb, anything that affects your vision should be taken seriously. Even though ptosis isn’t usually harmful to your health, you should still talk to your doctor immediately if you’re experiencing any signs of droopy eyelids.
Like we mentioned above, contacts and other irritants can create a headache for you and the sensitive skin around your eyes. If you rely on glasses or contacts to see, have you ever thought about getting LASIK surgery? How would you feel about saying goodbye to your germ-infested, stye-causing contacts once and for all?
If you’re considering LASIK eye surgery- but don’t really know where to begin- here are a few helpful articles to get you started:
What are the Risks of Laser Eye Surgery?
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