Ptosis is an odd word with a simple definition. Ptosis is the medical term for a drooping eyelid. It refers only to the upper eyelid, and if severe enough ptosis can affect the sufferer’s eyesight. As a board-certified ophthalmologist and a fellowship trained oculoplastic surgeon, Dr. Lee is an expert in diagnosing and, if necessary, surgically repairing the eyelid to counter the impacts of ptosis.

The causes

The causes of ptosis aren’t cut and dried because the area involves the muscles, nerves, and the skin of the eyelids. The muscles involved are called levator muscles (think elevator); they allow the eyelids to move up and down. They can weaken with age or due to injury. Congenitally, some people are born with weaker-than-normal eye muscles giving them ptosis as young children.

Nerve damage can cause ptosis. One common cause of nerve damage in the face and eye area is called Horner syndrome. Stroke and other brain injury, spinal cord damage, and lung cancer can lead to Horner syndrome.

Other causes are linked to chronic conditions such as diabetes and myasthenia gravis. Diabetes, the body’s inability to process sugar correctly, can lead to eye disease and ptosis. Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease that affects the way the muscles and the nerves communicate.

Diagnosing ptosis

Since the symptoms of ptosis are pretty straightforward — drooping of the upper eyelid — diagnosis isn’t that difficult. But the condition shows the importance of eye exams, even for children, to see if ptosis is affecting their vision. Blood tests can detect diabetes or myasthenia gravis. Beyond diagnosis, finding the root cause is critical.

Treating the condition

Obviously, treatment of ptosis by Dr. Lee varies, depending on the root cause. If diabetes is to blame, the condition needs to be managed, as there is no cure for diabetes. If injuries, tumors, nerve damage, or cancer are behind the ptosis, it can be resolved after isolating the cause. In the case of myasthenia gravis, prescription medication is used.

In congenital ptosis or ptosis caused by weakening due to aging, these often require surgery because the levator muscles usually do not improve on their own. In this surgery, Dr. Lee manually tightens the levator muscles so that the patient can then lift the eyelid. Surgery is generally very successful in restoring vision and eyelid function, along with the cosmetic appearance of the eyes.

If you or your child suffers from a drooping eyelid, please call Dr. Lee so that he can diagnose what’s going on. Ptosis isn’t something that will correct itself. Call us at (610) 789-6701 to schedule a consultation.