Ptosis - infants and children
Ptosis (eyelid drooping) in infants and children is when the upper eyelid is lower than it should be. This may occur in one or both eyes. Eyelid drooping that occurs at birth or within the first year is called congenital ptosis.
Blepharoptosis - children; Congenital ptosis; Eyelid drooping - children; Eyelid drooping - amblyopia; Eyelid drooping - astigmatism
Ptosis in infants and children is often due to a problem with the muscle that raises the eyelid. A nerve problem in the eyelid can also cause it to droop.
Ptosis may also occur due to other conditions. Some of these include:
- Trauma at birth (such as from the use of forceps)
- Eye movement disorders
- Brain and nervous system problems
- Eyelid tumors or growths
Eyelid drooping that occurs later in childhood or adulthood may have other causes.
Children with ptosis may tip their head back to see. They may raise their eyebrows to try to move the eyelid up. You may notice:
- Drooping of one or both eyelids
- Increased tearing
- Blocked vision (from severe eyelid drooping)
EXAMS AND TESTS
The health care provider will do a physical exam to determine the cause.
The provider also may do certain tests:
Other tests may be done to check for diseases or illnesses that may be causing ptosis.
Eyelid lift surgery (ptosis repair) can repair drooping upper eyelids.
- If vision is not affected, surgery can wait until age 3 to 4 when the child has grown a little bigger.
- In severe cases, surgery is needed right away to prevent "lazy eye" (amblyopia).
The provider will also treat any eye problems from ptosis. Your child may need to:
- Wear an eye patch over the stronger eye to strengthen vision in the weaker eye.
- Wear special glasses to correct astigmatism, which can happen due to pressure on the cornea from a drooping eyelid.
Children with mild ptosis should have regular eye exams to make sure amblyopia does not develop.
Surgery works well to improve the look and function of the eye. Some children need more than one surgery.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your provider if:
- You notice your child has a drooping eyelid
- One eyelid suddenly droops or closes
Ellis FJ. Correction of blepharoptosis in children. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol 6, chap 104.
Olitsky SE, Hug D, Plummer LS, Stahl ED, Ariss MM, Lindquist TP. Abnormalities of the lids. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 624.
Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.