What causes adult ptosis?

The most common cause of ptosis in adults is the separation or stretching of the levator muscle tendon from the eyelid. This process may occur:

  • As a result of aging
  • After cataract or other eye surgery
  • As a result of an injury

Adult ptosis may also occur as a complication of other diseases involving the levator muscle or its nerve supply, such as neurologic and muscular diseases and, in rare cases, orbital tumors.

Adult ptosis (or drooping of the eyelid) can result from several causes.

Congenital ptosis which is present since birth occurs as a result of improper development of one of the muscles or part of the nervous system which helps raise the eyelid.  Nerve injury during birth can also cause congenital ptosis.

Acquired ptosis (i.e. occurring later in life as a result of normal aging or a disease process) has several causes:

1.  Normal aging results in loosening of the skin and ligaments which keep the eyelid open thus resulting in a droopy eyelid.

2.  Eye surgery (e.g. cataract removal) can result in loosening of the ligaments which help keep the eyelid open.  Neck surgery infrequently can interrupt pathways in the spinal cord resulting in ptosis. 

3.  Eye or eyelid trauma

4.  Cancers of the eyelid or nerves which control the eyelid

5.  Certain muscle diseases (e.g. oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy)

6.  Myasthenia Gravis (MG) or ocular MG 

7.  Nerve dysfunction from trauma, diabetes, infection, or inflammation.

8.  Stroke

9.  Multiple Sclerosis

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.