Drooping Eyelids

Description

As we get older, the lower eyelids sometimes start to droop away from the eyeball. Drooping is the result of reduced muscle tone in the muscles that control the eyelids.

If your lower eyelids droop outward, away from the eye (ectropion), they may no longer be able to protect your eyes, and your eyes may become dry and irritated. If your eyelids turn inward (entropion), forcing the lashes onto the eye, this also may cause irritation and possible damage.

In addition, drooping eyelids can prevent tears from draining normally, so tears may run down your cheeks. Excessive tearing can also be a sign of increased sensitivity to light or wind, an eye infection, or a blocked tear duct.

If your upper eyelids droop low enough (ptosis), or the eyelid skin folds over the edge of the lid, your vision may be impaired.

There is no home treatment for drooping eyelids. But surgery can sometimes help.

When to Call a Health Professional

Call a health professional if:

  • Your eye is painful or there is swelling extending beyond the lid margins.
  • Your eyelids droop suddenly.
  • Drooping eyelids interfere with your vision.
  • Your eyes are dry and irritated, or your eyelids do not close completely while you are awake or asleep.
  • Your eyelashes start to rub on your eyeball.

Other Places To Get Help

Organization

American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)
P.O. Box 7424
San Francisco, CA  94120-7424
Phone: (415) 561-8500
Fax: (415) 561-8533
Web Address: www.aao.org
 

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is an association of medical eye doctors. It provides general information and brochures on eye conditions and diseases and low-vision resources and services. The AAO is not able to answer questions about specific medical problems or conditions.


Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Horton JC (2008). Disorders of the eye. In AS Fauci et al., eds., Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th ed., vol. 2, pp. 192–195. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Sullivan JH (2008). Lids, lacrimal apparatus, and tears. In P Riordan-Eva, JP Whitcher, eds., Vaughan and Asbury's General Ophthalmology, 17th ed., pp. 81–97. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Credits

Author Jeannette Curtis
Editor Kathleen M. Ariss, MS
Associate Editor Denele Ivins
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Last Updated March 9, 2009

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