The eyelids are a critical factor in seeing well. They help protect, clean, and lubricate the eyes. Many conditions can affect the eyelids, including problems related to aging, trauma, infections, inflammation, and scarring.
Droopy eyelids can be caused by several different factors. The two most common conditions arise from excess skin and fat that interfere with a person’s vision (dermatochalasia) or damage to the eyelid muscles and nerves (ptosis).
Dermatochalasia results in puffy, sagging, or tired looking eyes. This can interfere with a patient’s peripheral vision and can cause the eyelids to feel heavy. It can be treated with a surgery called blepharoplasty that removes the excess skin, fat, and muscles from the eyelids. It may be performed for cosmetic reasons or medical reasons to improve sight by lifting the droopy eyelids out of the patient’s field of vision.
The blepharoplasty procedure is designed to give a more youthful and “awake” appearance. It is an outpatient surgery performed with local anesthesia and the incisions are hidden in the creases of the eyelids. The surgeon removes the excess tissue through these incisions and then stitches them closed with fine sutures. After several days, these sutures are then removed. The effect of this surgery can last for many years.
Ptosis is a common condition that can affect the upper eyelid of one or both eyes as a result of aging, a congenital defect, muscle deformity, or nerve disorder. It is caused by a weakness or separation of muscles deep within the eyelid. This condition can occur in patients of all ages, but is most common in older patients and will likely continue to worsen with age. Ptosis usually causes an imbalance in the appearance of the eyes.
Patients may seek treatment for ptosis for cosmetic and/or medical purposes. Severe drooping may obstruct vision as the eyelid gradually droops lower and eventually covers the eye. Treatment for this condition usually involves eyelid surgery to reposition the eyelid to its proper position.
Ectropion is a disorder in which the eyelids turn outward, exposing the inner lining of the eyelid and leaving it vulnerable to infection, scarring, and inflammation. This problem can be caused by aging, facial nerve paralysis, birth defects, scar tissue, or trauma. This may be accompanied by other eye conditions such as redness, dry eyes, and excessive tearing. Some of the symptoms may be treated with lubricating eye drops and ointments, but if the eyelid continues to turn outward, a surgical tightening and repositioning of the eyelid may be required.
Entropion is a disorder in which the eyelids tend to turn inward causing the eyelashes to chronically rub against the eye. It is caused by aging, congenital defects, eyelid spasms, inflammation from other disorders, scars, or trauma. The corneas can be severely irritated and damaged if this is not corrected. Treatment consists of a brief surgical procedure under local anesthesia.
Blocked Tear Ducts Treatment
Dacryostenosis, commonly known as a blocked tear duct, is a result of an improperly formed tear duct that obstructs the tear drainage system. The tear duct, or nasolacrimal duct, drains tears from the eye to the inside of the nose. When the duct cannot drain the tears, they have nowhere to go and may collect in the tear sac and cause ocular irritation. This common condition affects up to 20 percent of newborn babies.
Tear ducts that are blocked from birth usually clear up on their own within a year. Symptoms may not be noticeable until after a few weeks, but can include tears pooling in the eyes or draining down the eyelid and cheeks, discharge from the eye, or reddening of the skin around the area. If this condition does not resolve within the first year of life, a surgical treatment can be done to open the blocked tear duct.