Eyelid drooping is excess sagging of the upper eylid. The edge of the upper eyelid may be lower than it should be (ptosis) or there may be excess baggy skin in the upper eyelid (dermatochalasis). Eyelid drooping is often a combination of both conditions.
The problem is also called ptosis.
A drooping eyelid is most often due to:
Weakness of the muscle that raises the eyelid
Damage to the nerves that control that muscle
Looseness of the skin of the upper eyelids
Drooping eyelid can be:
Caused by the normal aging process
Present before birth
The result of an injury or disease
Diseases or illnesses that may lead to eyelid drooping include:
If a disease is found, it will be treated. Most cases of drooping eyelids are due to aging and there is no disease involved.
Eyelid lift surgery (blepharoplasty) is done to repair sagging or drooping upper eyelids.
In milder cases, it can be done to improve the appearance of the eyelids.
In more severe cases, surgery may be needed to correct interference with vision.
In children with ptosis, surgery may be needed to prevent amblyopia, also called "lazy eye."
A drooping eyelid can stay constant, worsen over time (be progressive), or come and go (be intermittent).
The expected outcome depends on the cause of the ptosis. Surgery is usually very successful in restoring appearance and function.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your health care provider if:
Eyelid drooping is affecting your appearance or vision
One eyelid suddenly droops or closes
It is associated with other symptoms, such as double vision or pain
See an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) for:
Drooping eyelids in children
New or rapidly changing eyelid drooping in adults
Davis CM, Dryden RM. Blepharoplasty. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol 5, chap 74.
Savar A, Blaydon SM, Nakra T, Shore JW. Ptosis surgery. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol 5, chap 78.
Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 431.
Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.