Addressing Ptosis and Dermatochalasis
We commonly think that drooping eyelids is just another annoying factor of getting older. But while ageing can give us a few lines, wrinkles, and extra pounds in all the wrong places, drooping eyelids is not just a side effect of getting older, it can be the result of a condition, and it can affect children.
There are two types of drooping eyelids: ptosis (short for blepharoptosis) and dermatochalasis. One relates to impaired muscle use and the other to an excess of skin.
Ptosis is the term used for a droopy upper eyelid that is caused by muscle weakness or paralysis. This may seem like a cosmetic issue, but it’s not. If the drooping is severe, it can cause amblyopia or astigmatism. Ptosis can interfere with vision development when it is left untreated, and it is especially important to treat ptosis in young children.
Causes of Ptosis
Ptosis can be caused by muscle dysfunction. If the muscle that lifts the upper eyelid is impaired, the result is a drooping eyelid. The muscle could be damaged from multiple causes, including a congenital defect, trauma, inflammation, eye surgery, or underlying conditions such as diabetes, Horner’s syndrome, or myasthenia gravis.
Causes of Dermatochalasis
Dermatochalasis is the term used to an excess of upper eyelid skin. When there is an excess of upper eyelid skin, it can cause a droopy upper lid that interferes with vision. Dermatochalasis is a common disorder that is usually caused by the ageing process. When the elastic tissue of the eyelids begins to atrophy, the result is excess lid skin that has fine wrinkles. Dermatochalasis can cause functional issues. The excess folds can inhibit vision, there may be damage to the lateral skin due to tears gathering in the folds, and the gravitational pull of the folds can cause lash ptosis, which is a decline in lash growth.
Treatment for Ptosis
There are several approaches for the treatment of ptosis. Primarily, the muscle function that opens the eye must be repaired. The most common treatment is surgery to remove the excess upper eyelid skin and fat. Your doctor will perform a visual field test to determine if the condition is severe enough to impact vision. If so, this surgery will be a medical procedure; but if not, the patient will have to elect for cosmetic surgery to treat the condition. The surgery is usually an outpatient procedure and it can be done with a single incision.
If the ptosis is caused by disease or inflammation, the underlying cause will need to be treated as a separate issue. Once this is treated, the ptosis may also be resolved.
If muscular dysfunction is the cause, the surgery involves tightening the muscle or placing a suspension sling in the eyelid to support the muscle.
For anyone who does not want to undergo surgery, Botox may be a solution. Some forms of ptosis can be corrected by lifting the brow. However, Botox generally has to be repeated roughly every four months.
Treatment for Dermatochalasis
To correct the effects of dermatochalasis, an upper eyelid blepharoplasty will be performed by an ophthalmic plastic surgeon. The same procedure is used whether the surgery is needed for cosmetic or functional purposes. It’s commonly known as an eye lift and hundreds of thousands of people undergo this simple surgery every year.
During a blepharoplasty, the excess skin surrounding the eye is removed and the remaining skin is attached to connective tissue. Many patients report an improvement in vision after this surgery. The surgery only takes a few hours and the recovery time can range from two weeks to a month, depending on the patient’s overall health.
In this day and age, no one needs to live with droopy eyelids. If you want to fix it because you don’t like the way it looks, the surgery is simple and non invasive. And if drooping eyelids are impairing your vision, you will be relieved that you took steps to address the condition before it gets worse.
Quality of life is as important as longevity, and investing in your health always improves the quality of life.
So if drooping eyelids are impacting your quality of life, don’t delay, make an appointment with your Kelowna eye doctor and find out the best course of treatment for you.