What is Ptosis?

Ptosis (pronounced toe-sis) is the medical term for upper eyelids that droop. This dropping can cause reduced vision in an eye, depending on how far the upper eyelid droops. Patients with ptosis often have difficulty keeping their eyelids open. To compensate, they will arch their eyebrows in an effort to raise the drooping eyelids.

People with severe cases of ptosis have been known to lift their eyelids with their fingers in order to see or tilt their chin up to see. Children with ptosis may develop amblyopia (lazy eye) causing poor vision in one or both eyes, which may need to be treated with patches, eye drops, or even surgery.

What causes Ptosis?

Ptosis can be caused by a number of factors, including age-related muscle weakening, trauma, excessive sun exposure, even neurological disease.

The main cause of ptosis is a stretched tendon attached to the levator muscle, the major muscle that lifts the eyelid. Ptosis can also be caused by, or made worse if, your eyebrows become droopy, causing even more skin to sag down towards your eyelids. Children can be born with ptosis or acquire it due to trauma or neurologic reasons.

What are the symptoms of ptosis?

Symptoms of ptosis can include a loss of peripheral vision, skin pushing on your eyelashes, neck pain (if you need to lift up your chin to see better), as well as fatigue and headaches caused by unconsciously using your forehead muscles to tighten in an attempt to lift the excess skin from your eyelids.

Can Ptosis Be Corrected?

Ptosis is most often corrected surgically and involves the tightening the levator muscle to elevate the eyelid. In some cases (usually in young children), a sling operation is performed which makes the forehead muscles also work to elevate the eyelid(s).

Your surgeon will perform testing to determine which surgical approach is the best form of correction for you. No matter the approach, the goal is to elevate the eyelid for a full field of vision and to achieve symmetry with the opposite upper eyelid. Ptosis repair can be performed on one or both eyelids and is often covered by your medical insurance.

Who Should Perform Ptosis Surgery?

When choosing a surgeon to perform ptosis surgery, an ophthalmologist trained in cosmetic and reconstructive eyelid surgery is uniquely qualified to deal with any issues that arise. Dr. Silbert is a board certified ophthalmologist, fellowship-trained at Wills Eye Hospital in oculoplastic surgery. He has performed more than 5,000 ptosis lifts in his 21 years of practice.

What can I do after surgery to care for my eyes and skin? 


The most important thing you can do after your surgery to care for your eyes is wear high quality sunglasses! Quality sunglasses provide protection from ultraviolet light and intense light (extreme bright light like sunlight reflecting off snow), both for your eyes and for your skin.

Wearing a high quality sunglass can help:

  • Reduce scarring
  • Decrease healing time
  • Prevent premature aging of the eyelid skin
  • Prevent development of skin cancer

Not all sunglasses are the same.  If you have questions as to whether your sunglasses have sufficient protection, Conestoga Eye’s optical is more than happy to look at your current pair.

Avoid Sun Exposure

  • Sunblock and hats are important to prevent premature sun damage to the skin of the face.
  • Sunblock’s with and SPF of 50 or makeup with sunblock should be used on a daily basis.
  • Avoidance of mid-day sun, when light is at its harshest, is also important.
  • Never use tanning beds.

No Smoking

  • Smoking greatly increases the healing time of skin post-surgery.
  • It is best to quit smoking prior to eyelid surgery.

Links for more information

Learn more about ptosis and its treatments at the links below. This information has been curated by the experienced Conestoga eye team just for you.


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