Ptosis Risk Factors - How to Identify and Mitigate Them - Shens Clinic
3 Killiney Road, Winsland House 1, #09-08, Singapore 239519

Ptosis Risk Factors - How to Identify and Mitigate Them

wwoman with ptosis - ptosis risk factors

Ptosis is a problem which many people face in their middle age. This is where the upper eyelid skin sags and appears in a lower position. The condition is also known as droopy eyelids. In most cases, it is harmless but it can make the eyes look smaller and less appealing.

Sometimes, ptosis might be not caused by age-related skin changes, but it can occur due to eye trauma or underlying medical conditions. In such cases, the drooping is most likely to affect only one eye. This may not only impact the aesthetic appearance of the eyes and face but also impair vision.

Here, we will look at the different causes of ptosis as well as the risk factors for developing such an issue. We will also go over some of the possible treatment options for drooping eyelids. So, please read on!

What is the most common cause of ptosis?

middle aged asian woman with mild ptosis in one eye

The natural aging process is one of the leading causes of the so-called acquired ptosis or ptosis which occurs later in life. After the age of 30, the skin starts to gradually become thinner and weaker and this is due to the decrease of elastin and collagen. The first area to be affected is namely the area around your eyes. The skin in your upper eyelids may begin to relax and sag. Your eye muscles may also weaken over time which can worsen the problem.

Other causes of ptosis

Acquired ptosis may also be caused by excessive eye rubbing, injury, or eye surgery. In some cases, it might occur as a result of muscular problems or nerve damage as well as be a sign of a certain underlying medical condition. The diseases that may lead to mild or severe ptosis include diabetes, myasthenia gravis or eyelid tumour.

However, ptosis can affect people of all ages, not just older adults. There are some children who are born with drooping eyelids. This is called congenital ptosis and is usually caused by the improper development of the muscle that raises the upper eyelid (levator muscle).

Age-related ptosis usually affects both eyes and is called bilateral ptosis. This kind of eyelid droopiness is normally mild and barely noticeable. Ptosis caused by eye injury or medical disease typically affects only one eye and is known as unilateral ptosis. Such upper eyelid drooping tends to be visible and may even lead to vision problems.

Who is at risk of getting ptosis?

Smoker breaking a cigarette in half

Anyone can get droopy eyelids and there are various factors that can contribute to it, including some medical conditions. Here, we will examine who is at a higher risk of developing ptosis.

Older adults

The older you get the thinner and less elastic your upper eyelid skin become. As a result, it can start to sag and droop causing ptosis. This cosmetic problem often affects people who are in their late 40s or 50s. However, it is possible to experience eyelid changes at a younger age due to unhealthy lifestyle practices.


Smoking can cause a lot of harm to the skin. It decreases the amount of collagen and elastin, affects resistance to the sun as well as reduces vitamin E secretion. This can not only cause fine lines and wrinkles but also sagging and loss of the upper eyelid skin.

Those with a family history of ptosis

Eyelid drooping can run in families. So, the odds of you also having hanging eyelids are higher if your parents do.

People who have had an eye injury or previous eye surgery

Some eye surgeries may reduce the eyelid's muscle strength and lead to eyelid ptosis. The same is true for eye injuries. They can weaken the levator muscle making your upper eyelid droops downward.

Individuals with certain neurological disorders

Some neurological conditions, such as myasthenia gravis, may cause damage to the nerve controlling the levator muscle and lead to upper eyelid ptosis. The problem can be presented in one or both eyelids.

Diabetic patients

Higher blood sugar levels can damage various parts of the body including the eyelid muscles. This in turn can cause a droopy eyelid appearance and vision problems.

What are the complications of ptosis?

Symptoms of ptosis can differ depending on the cause and severity of the condition. Ageing-related eyelid drooping rarely causes complications, but it tends to cause aesthetic concerns. It can make you look tired and older.

When eye surgery or injury is behind your drooping eyelid then you may experience complications such as blurred or double vision. You may also have dry or watery eyes and frequent headaches.

Neurogenic ptosis may occur in one or both eyelids and can be mild to severe. It is often accompanied by double or blurred vision. A condition like myasthenia gravis can cause nerve damage and you may experience a lack of balance in eye movement.

Children who have congenital ptosis may suffer from a disorder called amblyopia or lazy eye. This is when the vision does not develop properly. In some severe cases, the drooping eyelid can cover the pupil and even completely block normal vision. In such cases, medical intervention is required.

What are the possible treatments for ptosis?

upper blepharoplasty surgery ptosis correction

Ptosis correction surgery is one of the most commonly recommended treatments for correcting both acquired ptosis and congenital ptosis. Through this procedure, the plastic surgeon tightens the levator muscle. This, in turn, will help lift the eyelid and improve vision and aesthetic appearance. Surgical correction is one of the most successful ways to treat ptosis in both adults and children.

A ptosis crutch is a non-surgical approach that doctors may use to fix your drooping eyelid. You will be placed an attachment on the frame of your glasses. The ptosis crutch will hold your upper eyelids preventing them from falling downwards.

In case there is an underlying medical condition contributing to your ptosis, it is crucial that you get it addressed as soon as possible. This will help you prevent further drooping.

Keep in mind that each case of ptosis is unique. As a result, it is critical that you consult with a doctor who will determine the root cause of the problem and recommend the best treatment plan.

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