EYE SIGHTS: The right green eye of a woman showing a drooping eye lid.
EYE SIGHTS: The right green eye of a woman showing a drooping eye lid. ElFlacodelNorte

What can you do about droopy eyelids?

HAVE you ever wondered why you have dropping skin about your eyes and if you can do anything about it? Ophthalmologist Dr Elizabeth Livingstone has some advice and tips to help you find a solution.

Droopy eyelids are a condition where ageing skin comes down over the eye which may obstruct a person's vision.

This often occurs at the corner of an eye which will impact more on your side vision than your direct vision and which can have a significant impact on your vision, including when driving.

Dr Livingstone, who works with elderly patients in her Livingstone Clinics at the Gold Coast and Sydney, says some of the reasons for droopy eyelids are -

  • As we age the skin above the eye can becomes less elastic and stretches. The skin can then rest on your eyelashes making them feel heavy.
  • Having a lot of fat tissue under the skin.
  • Some medical conditions including Thyroid disease, and those that cause fluid retention.
  • Atrophy, or allergies, which causes lots of swelling of the eyelids early in life.
  • Senile ptosis, which is where the ageing muscle in the top lid stretches causing the eyelid not to open properly.
  • Genetic disposition.

Surgery is an option for dealing with droopy eyelids, but Dr Livingstone cautions against having it before you have an essential eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. "We need to make sure your eyesight is good," Dr Livingstone said. "You may need a field examination done."

"Ideally you would get a referral from your GP or optometrist for an ophthalmologist," Dr Livingstone said.

If you object to the way your eyelids look, cosmetic, plastic, ENT and ophthalmologist surgeons can rectify the condition. But, the cost of this surgery isn't covered by Medicare and can be expensieve.

"The satisfaction of the patient is a lot harder to achieve because they are more younger and more critical," Dr Livingstone said. "They are not getting it just for the eyelids, they are looking at it from every point of their face, from all directions, and tend to notice differences after the surgery more than before. Because of that, medical indemnity for that sort of procedure is much higher.

"For the elderly patients, they just want to see better, and if they look better, they are so happy."

To rectify a skin problem, the surgery is similar to a cosmetic treatment. "If it's skin and fat, again it's pretty much the same surgery, but just a bit more involved," Dr Livingstone said.

"But, if you are starting to get stretching of the muscle and the drooping of the top eyelid margins so it's coming down over the pupil, then it belongs in the domain of the ophthalmologist. That operation requires relocating the muscle and stitching down onto the eyelid."

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