Harvard Men's Health Watch

What can be done about droopy eyelids?

Ask the doctor

Q. My eyelids have become droopy. Is this something I should be concerned about?

A. Droopy eyelids, known as ptosis, are often a normal occurrence of aging. The skin over your eyelids loses its elasticity as you grow older, and the muscles that raise your eyelids weaken. These factors result in a gradual drooping of the eyelids.

Some neurologic conditions also can cause ptosis, and most of the time only one eyelid is affected. An example is Bell's palsy, in which the nerves that control the muscles on one side of the face lose their strength. (However, this usually improves over time.) In rare situations, a stroke could cause ptosis in one eye. Finally, some unusual muscle conditions, like myasthenia gravis, affect eyelid muscles.

A physical exam can distinguish between neurologic causes and normal aging. Ptosis is not a serious problem unless it interferes with your vision. If this happens, or if your droopy eyelids are bothersome, you can opt for cosmetic surgery to repair your eyelids. Plastic surgeons, ophthalmologists, and sometimes dermatologists perform the procedure.

—William Kormos, MD
Editor in Chief, Harvard Men's Health Watch