Ptosis is the medical term for a droopy eyelid, which can occur in one or both eyelids. Children can be born with ptosis (congenital ptosis) or it can develop later in life (acquired).
Often childhood ptosis does not negatively impact vision, but in certain cases, it can cause astigmatism (refractive error), obstruction of light entering into the eye, a chin-up head position or amblyopia (lazy eye).
The most common cause of congenital ptosis is a weak muscle in the upper eyelid. When ptosis comes after birth (acquired) it has numerous potential causes, some of which include a neurological condition, an eye movement disorder or a mass on the eyelid pulling it down.
Riley at IU Health has ophthalmologists who are nationally and internationally known experts in the treatment of pediatric eye diseases. We offer routine services, such as refractions and eye checkups, as well as advanced diagnostic and surgical procedures that may be required for more complex cases.
Diagnosis of Ptosis
If your child appears to have a droopy eyelid, you can contact Riley at IU Health or have your child’s pediatrician or healthcare provider make a referral. At the initial appointment, an ophthalmologist obtains a family history. We want to know when the drooping eyelid developed and if your child seems to have double vision. It can be helpful to bring photos of your child from birth to their present age. During the exam, the doctor will examine the eyelid position, overall vision and any adaptations a child uses to compensate for the droopy eyelids, such as a chin-up head position.
Not all cases of congenital ptosis need treatment. Your child may be fitted with glasses if he or she has astigmatism that may cause amblyopia (lazy eye). If your child has amblyopia (lazy eye), ongoing treatment can improve vision.
Eyelid surgery may be necessary if an eyelid blocks vision or causes your child to use a chin-up head position. Children may also need surgery during preschool years if ptosis does not improve with their growth and development.
About 50 percent of children who have surgery will need another surgery within eight to 10 years, but they have good outcomes afterwards.
Key Points to Remember
Key Points to Remember
- A drooping eyelid is called ptosis.
- The most common cause of congenital ptosis is a weak muscle in the upper eyelid.
- Eyelid surgery may be necessary if your child’s drooping eyelid blocks vision or causes other problems.
- Surgery, if needed, generally has good outcomes for children.
- Continued treatment and follow-up care for vision problems like amblyopia may be necessary after surgery.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.