Also known as: droopiness of the lids.

What is ptosis?

Ptosis is a drooping eyelid with the upper eyelid falling to a lower position than normal. It may be congenital (at birth or occuring during the first year of life-congenital ptosis) or acquired later in childhood. Congenital ptosis is usually mild involving one eye only, however both eyelids may be affected and not necessarily symmetrically. Most congenital ptosis is mild however it can be severe with the eyelid covering part of the pupil and affecting sight. Ptosis that develops over days to weeks may indicate a neurological problem and needs further evaluation.

What causes ptosis?

Problems with the muscle (levator palpebrae superioris) (muscle replaced by fibrous scar-like tissue) or nerve that lifts the eyelid are the cause of ptosis. These can develop in the fetus before the baby is born (congenital ptosis), or later associated with tumors/growths of the eyelid or eye, thyroid disease, recurrent cysts or eyelid infections, cranial nerve palsies (neurological problems) or associated with other eye muscle disorders like myasthenia gravis.

What are the signs/symptoms of ptosis?

Though the drooping eyelid itself is the main sign, if ptosis is severe with vision problems, the child in addition may tilt the head backwards to compensate for the partially closed eyelid. Others signs/symptoms will depend on an underlying cause.

What are ptosis care options?

Any underlying cause (for example eyelid infection) requires treatment. If ptosis is problematic, surgery to correct the problem is required.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: September 06, 2019 03:16 PM