What is Ptosis? - Definition, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

Ptosis is a condition that causes drooping eyelids. In this lesson, we'll explore the symptoms, causes, and treatment of ptosis. A short quiz follows to test your understanding.

What Is Ptosis?

Ptosis (silent 'p') is a medical condition that causes drooping of the upper eyelid (or eyelids). If an eyelid droops too much, it restricts the field of vision by either partially or completely blocking the eye's pupil. Both children and adults can be affected by ptosis, although it commonly occurs as a result of aging.

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  • 0:02 What Is Ptosis?
  • 0:22 Symptoms
  • 0:50 What Causes Ptosis?
  • 1:33 Treatment Options
  • 2:17 Lesson Summary
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Ptosis Symptoms

The most common symptom of ptosis is a drooping eyelid (or eyelids, if it affects both eyes). As a result, the person may experience limited field of vision and may produce excess tears in the affected eyes. Someone suffering from ptosis often has difficulty keeping his or her eyes open and may tilt their head back or repeatedly raise their eyebrows in an effort to lift the eyelids. When the person is tired, the drooping may be more noticeable as the muscles fatigue.

What Causes Ptosis?

Ptosis can be caused by a variety of factors. As the muscles weaken with age, the tendon, or muscles, (called levators) responsible for lifting the eyelid may stretch and no longer be able to support the eyelid; this is the most common cause of ptosis.

Children may also be born with ptosis. This is likely caused by the improper development of the muscles responsible for lifting the eyelids. Ptosis may be seen in people who abuse drugs, like heroin or other opioids, or it may occur due to an eye injury or trauma. Finally, more serious conditions may result in the development of ptosis. These include brain tumors (or other cancers), diabetes, Horner syndrome, Myasthenia gravis, or stroke.

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