If you've ever seen a film featuring actor Forest Whitaker, you may have been left wondering about his drooping eyelid. Whitaker has a condition known as ptosis, which occurs when an eyelid droops, sometimes interfering with vision. He hasn't been shy about discussing his condition and has been quoted as saying his father also suffered from the ailment.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Medicine, ptosis is one of the most common conditions encountered in ophthalmology. Most patients acquire it in adulthood, but it can also be present at birth.
What Causes Droopy Eyelids?
The most common cause of ptosis is aging. Also known as senile or aponeurotic ptosis, this condition is a result of gravity and the characteristics of aging on the skin around the eyes. In this situation, both eyes are often affected, but sometimes it can be worse and more noticeable in one eye than the other. Ptosis can also occur when an infant is born with an underdevelopment of the levator muscle. According to Harvard Health, in 70 percent of these cases, it only affects one eye.
Nerve or brain injuries can create nerve disorders that affect the eyes and eyelids. Tumors, stroke and brain aneurysms are just a few of the ways this can happen. Diabetes and other systemic diseases have been shown to cause ptosis, as well. Other conditions that can cause drooping eyelids include muscle disorders, trauma to the eye, dermatochalasis, infection and muscle disease.
Drooping Eyelids Aren't Just a Cosmetic Concern
There are two forms of drooping eyelids: congenital ptosis and acquired ptosis. In congenital ptosis, the problem occurs during development and is present at birth, whereas in acquired ptosis the muscles in the eyelid become weak due to aging, trauma or disease. The most common form is acquired ptosis.
For many people, ptosis is not just about appearance. If the drooping becomes severe enough, it can begin to affect vision. This is not only dangerous, but can also affect one's quality of life. The effect on vision can interfere with all aspects of daily life and in turn can lead to other conditions such as amblyopia, or lazy eye, and astigmatisms. Even Whitaker, when asked about his eye, has told interviewers that it affects his vision when he looks up.
Treatment Options for Droopy Eyelids
The treatment of choice depends on the severity of the condition. In some less serious cases, special glasses with a "crutch" to hold up the eyelid are used.
The most common treatment for ptosis is surgery, said Dr. Mayli Davis, MD, of Advanced Eyelid Surgery Center in Fort Worth, Texas.
"Surgery for ptosis is a simple outpatient procedure," she said. "During the surgery, we tighten the muscle in the eyelid and lift the eyelid back into its optimum position."
For more information, or to book a consultation, call Advanced Eyelid Surgery Center at 817-778-4444.