Ptosis in Children And Adults

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What Is Ptosis?

Ptosis is drooping of the upper eyelid. The lid may droop slightly or it may cover the pupil (the dark center of the eye). One or both eyelids may be affected.

Ptosis that is present at birth is called congenital ptosis. If the ptosis in one eyelid is severe, the child’s vision may not develop properly. This may lead to amblyopia (also called lazy eye, a condition in which the brain uses images only from the “good” eye).

Ptosis that develops later is called adult or acquired ptosis.

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How Does It Occur?

Congenital ptosis occurs when the levator muscle, the muscle that lifts the eyelid up, is poorly developed. Children with ptosis may have other problems, such as diseases of the muscles or nerves.

Acquired (adult) ptosis occurs when there is an abnormality in:

  • The levator muscle
  • The levator muscle tendon
  • The nerve supply to the levator muscle.

These conditions may be caused by:

  • Aging
  • Muscle or nerve disorders
  • Tumors
  • Cataract or other eye surgery
  • An injury
  • Diseases such as diabetes that affect the nerves and muscles

If ptosis occurs suddenly, a brain aneurysm may be the cause. In this case it is a medical emergency.

What Are the Symptoms?

The drooping eyelid is the main symptom of ptosis. People with ptosis may tilt their heads back or raise their eyebrows to lift the eyelid. Adults may notice a loss of vision, especially in the upper part of their field of vision. After many years of holding their heads in abnormal positions, they may have deformities of the head or neck.

How Is Ptosis Diagnosed?

Your doctor will examine you. He or she may order blood tests, X-rays, or other tests to determine the cause and the best treatment plan.

How Long Will the Effects Last?

Congenital ptosis will not get better without surgery. However, early correction will help the child to develop normal vision in both eyes.

Some acquired ptosis that is caused by nerve problems will improve without treatment. Some ptosis that is due to a muscle disease improves when the disease is treated with the proper medicines. Often the effects of ptosis last until the proper surgery is performed.

For more information about treatment for a drooping eyelid, please contact Kirk Eye Center online or call 970-669-1107 today. Our eye doctors welcome patients from Fort Collins, Windsor and other areas near Loveland.

How Is Ptosis Treated?

The most common and effective treatment for congenital ptosis, or eyelid drooping, is a surgical procedure called blepharoplasty. 

During a blepharoplasty procedure, the muscles responsible for lifting the upper eyelid are repositioned higher on the face. Any excess skin and fat in the area are removed because they can contribute to additional eyelid drooping. 

In cases of acquired ptosis that occur later in life, treating the underlying cause can sometimes resolve the eyelid drooping. For example, ptosis caused by a tumor may resolve on its own once the tumor has been removed. 

Ptosis caused by nerve disorders may be treated with certain therapeutic measures that help the patient retrain their eyelid to stay in a higher position.

How Long Is the Recovery After Ptosis Treatment?

The recovery after ptosis treatment varies from patient to patient. Most people are able to return to work and resume their normal activities about one week after the procedure. 

For several weeks, you will need to avoid direct sun exposure, as it can irritate the delicate skin on your eyelids. You should also avoid applying cosmetics to the upper eyelid for four to six weeks after your treatment, as this can lead to irritation. 

Patients typically see the final outcome of their blepharoplasty about six to eight weeks after their surgery. This time frame allows ample time for any swelling or bruising to subside and for the tissues to settle into their new placement.

How Many Ptosis Treatments Are Necessary?

Treatment for ptosis is usually performed only once. A blepharoplasty procedure should produce permanent results. If ptosis is being caused by an underlying condition or another ongoing factor, the eyelid may continue to droop downward in spite of treatment. 

In cases of acquired ptosis where the eyelid continues to droop, alternative therapeutic options may be required. A consultation with a plastic surgeon can assess your situation and determine whether your ptosis treatment will yield permanent results or if further action will be necessary.

Are There Any Risks Involved with Ptosis Treatment?

Blepharoplasty is performed under general anesthesia, which comes with the standard risks involved in using anesthesia. These risks may include allergic reactions, respiratory difficulties, and stroke.

It is worth noting that anesthetic risks are uncommon and your pre-surgical medical clearance can help determine whether you have any factors that could increase your likelihood of encountering these risks.

Risks that are specific to the blepharoplasty procedure include infection, bleeding, bruising, dry eyes, itchiness around the eyes, and blurry vision.

Is Ptosis Treatment Painful?

Ptosis treatment is performed under general anesthesia, which means patients do not feel any discomfort during the procedure. There may be mild swelling, bruising, and soreness in the area for several days after surgery. This can typically be managed with over-the-counter pain medications.

Once your eyelids have healed completely from ptosis treatment, there should be no pain or discomfort.

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