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Learn about your drooping eyelid, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your drooping eyelid from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Your Drooping Eyelid May Also be Known as:
Eyelid drooping

Drooping Eyelid Symptoms

Drooping of one or both eyelids can be an irritating symptom. Eyelid drooping changes the appearance of the face and can interfere with vision if severe. In some cases, it is present from birth. In other cases, it develops later in life, with a gradual or rapid onset depending on the cause.

Symptoms that can be associated with a drooping eyelid, depending on the cause, include:

Drooping Eyelid Causes Overview

Congenital Drooping Eyelid Causes:

Drooping of one or both eyelids can be present from birth. Usually this is a benign condition with no identifiable cause, but occasionally it can be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

Neurological conditions:

  • Peripheral nerve damage: Injury to peripheral nerves that contribute to eyelid function can lead to drooping eyelid symptoms. This can occur via trauma to a major artery in the neck or compression by a tumor in the lung. There may be additional symptoms such as a constricted pupil and lack of sweating.
  • Decreased blood flow: Obstruction of blood supply in certain areas of the brain, such as during a stroke, can lead to drooping of one or both eyelids.
  • Structural abnormality in the brain: An aneurysm, meaning an enlarged portion of a blood vessel, can compress a major nerve that supplies the eye and eyelid (the oculomotor nerve). This causes eyelid drooping, decreased ability to move the eye, and an enlarged pupil. A similar process can occur due to a brain tumor.

Muscular conditions:

  • Neuromuscular condition: Communication between nerves and muscles can be disrupted by an inappropriate immune response. This results in muscle weakness, including in the muscles that hold up the eyelid.
  • Aging: The muscular structures that hold up the eyelid can gradually degenerate over time, leading to drooping eyelid symptoms.

Eye or eyelid conditions:

  • Infection: An infection of the eye socket can lead to eye pain, difficulty moving the eye, and a drooping eyelid.
  • Eyelid abnormality: A structural abnormality, such as a tumor or thickening caused by an allergic eye disease, can cause droopiness by weighing down the eyelid.

Underlying medical conditions:

  • Diabetes: As diabetes progresses, small blood vessels can be damaged, including ones that supply the oculomotor nerve. Disruption of the blood supply can cause a drooping eyelid along with decreased ability to move the eye.
  • Headache syndromes: Some headache syndromes can present with eyelid drooping as an additional symptom.
  • Thyroid disease: Abnormally high levels of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism or Grave's Disease) are more likely to cause pulled back eyelids than droopiness. However, in some cases high thyroid hormone can cause the same neuromuscular disorder mentioned above, causing droopy eyelids.

Top 10 Drooping Eyelid Causes

  1. 1.Stroke or Tia (Transient Ischemic Attack)

    A stroke is a medical emergency. Strokes happen when blood flow to the brain is stopped.

    You needs to go to the hospital by ambulance or as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the fewer treatment options available and the worse the outcome.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, new headache, arm numbness, being severely ill, leg numbness
    Symptoms that never occur with stroke or tia (transient ischemic attack):
    bilateral weakness
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  2. 2.Stroke or Tia (Transient Ischemic Attack)

    A stroke is a medical emergency. Strokes happen when blood flow to the brain is stopped.

    Call 911 immediately. The longer you wait, the fewer treatment options available and the worse the outcome.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, new headache, being severely ill, stiff neck, arm weakness
    Symptoms that never occur with stroke or tia (transient ischemic attack):
    bilateral weakness
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  3. 3.Cluster Headache (New Onset)

    A cluster headache is a type of headache that is moderate to severe in intensity. It is often one-sided head pain that may involve tearing of the eyes and a stuffy nose. Attacks occur regularly for 1 week to 1 year. The attacks are separated by pain-free periods that last at least 1 month or longer. Cluster headaches may be confused with other common types of headaches such as migraines, sinus headache, and tension headache.

    You should visit your primary care physician to discuss symptoms, especially if the headaches are worsening or happening more frequently. Cluster headaches are diagnosed purely by history. Treatment options include extra oxygen and prescription medications.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    nausea, new headache, severe headache, throbbing headache, sensitivity to light
    Symptoms that always occur with cluster headache (new onset):
    severe headache, new headache
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Cluster Headache

    A cluster headache is a type of recurring headache that is moderate to severe in intensity. It is often one-sided head pain that may involve tearing of the eyes and a stuffy nose. Attacks can occur regularly for 1 week and up to 1 year. Each period of attacks (i.e. each cluster) is separated by pain-free periods that last at least 1 month or longer. Other common headaches may also occur during these cluster-free periods.

    You should visit your primary care physician to discuss symptoms, especially if the headaches are worsening or happening more frequently. Cluster headaches are diagnosed purely by history. Treatment options include extra oxygen and prescription medications.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    severe headache, nausea, sensitivity to light, throbbing headache, history of headaches
    Symptoms that always occur with cluster headache:
    severe headache
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Recurrent Cluster Headache

    A cluster headache is a type of recurring headache that is moderate to severe in intensity. It is often one-sided head pain that may involve tearing of the eyes and a stuffy nose. Attacks can occur regularly for 1 week and up to 1 year. Each period of attacks (i.e. each cluster) is separated by pain-free periods that last at least 1 month or longer. Other common headaches may also occur during these cluster-free periods.

    You should visit your primary care physician to discuss symptoms, especially if the headaches are worsening or happening more frequently. Cluster headaches are diagnosed purely by history. Treatment options include extra oxygen and prescription medications.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    nausea, severe headache, throbbing headache, congestion, sensitivity to light
    Symptoms that always occur with recurrent cluster headache:
    severe headache
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Drooping Eyelid Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having drooping eyelid.

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  6. 6.Myasthenia Gravis (Over 50)

    Myasthenia Gravis is an autoimmune disease, where the immune system attacks the connection between nerves and muscles.

    You should make an appointment to see a doctor as soon as possible. Blood tests will need to be performed in order to confirm this diagnosis, and to begin the appropriate treatment.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    weakness, general weakness, trouble swallowing, voice change
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  7. 7.Stroke or Tia (Transient Ischemic Attack)

    A stroke is a medical emergency. Strokes happen when blood flow to the brain is stopped.

    You needs to go to the hospital by ambulance or as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the fewer treatment options available and the worse the outcome.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    being severely ill, new headache, stiff neck, dizziness, vision changes
    Symptoms that never occur with stroke or tia (transient ischemic attack):
    bilateral weakness
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  8. 8.Carotid Artery Dissection

    A carotid artery dissection is the tearing of the walls of the carotid arteries, which deliver blood to the brain from the aorta. This is a medical emergency.

    Call 911 immediately. Diagnosis is done by CT or MRI, and treatment involves anti-clotting medication for at least 3-6 months. Surgery may be necessary for those who can't get this medication.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    new headache, headache near one temple, numbness on one side of body, steady headache, history of headaches
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  9. 9.Myasthenia Gravis (Under 50)

    Myasthenia Gravis is an autoimmune disease, where the immune system attacks the connection between nerves and muscles.

    You should make an appointment to see a doctor as soon as possible. Blood tests will need to be performed in order to confirm this diagnosis, and to begin the appropriate treatment.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    weakness, general weakness, trouble swallowing, double vision, voice change
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  10. 10.Mitochondrial Myopathy

    Mitochondrial myopathy includes a group of inherited genetic disorders that affect the muscles of the body.

    Make an appointment with a physician to further analyze what genetic defects may be present, and begin prescription treatment.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    core symptoms of mitochondrial myopathy, fatigue, muscle aches, unintentional weight loss, decreased exercise tolerance
    Symptoms that always occur with mitochondrial myopathy:
    core symptoms of mitochondrial myopathy
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Drooping Eyelid Treatments and Relief

Seek emergency drooping eyelid treatment if:

  • You are having difficulty breathing. You may have a neuromuscular condition that is affecting the muscles controlling respiration.
  • You are experiencing neurological abnormalities such as confusion or slurred speech.
  • Your eyelid drooping started very suddenly.
  • You have decreased ability to move your eye or a constricted pupil and lack of sweating on the side of the drooping eyelid.
  • You have a severe headache along with the drooping eyelid.
  • You are experiencing eye pain and/or a fever.

In some cases, even though emergency treatment isn't necessary, you may need laboratory testing or radiology testing / imaging in order to make a diagnosis and select the best drooping eyelid treatment.

Make an appointment with your medical provider if:

  • Your eyelid drooping has worsened over time or is affecting your ability to see.
  • You have noticed muscle weakness in other parts of the body.
  • You have symptoms of high thyroid hormone such as weight loss or changes in your menstrual cycle.
  • You have noticed decreased peripheral vision.
  • You have previously been diagnosed with diabetes or a thyroid condition.

Your medical provider may prescribe one or more of the following treatments, depending on the cause of your drooping eyelid symptoms:

  • Medication to suppress abnormal immune system activation or improve communication at the neuromuscular junction.
  • Treatment for an underlying medical condition such as diabetes or increased thyroid hormone.
  • Referral to a surgeon.

Unfortunately, most causes of a drooping eyelid will not resolve without medical or surgical treatment.

  • If you have been diagnosed with an allergic disorder of the eyelid, avoiding allergens can help with droopiness and discomfort.
  • Placing an icepack on the eye for a couple minutes can help improve eyelid drooping if a neuromuscular condition is the cause.

FAQs About Drooping Eyelid

Here are some frequently asked questions about drooping eyelid.

Why is my eyelid drooping suddenly?

Sudden eyelid drooping, or ptosis, can have a variety of causes. Peripheral nerves that travel through the neck can be disrupted, causing eyelid drooping along with a constricted pupil and lack of sweating (triad of Horner's syndrome). The eyelid drooping could also be caused by an abnormality in the brain such as bleeding or a stroke. You should seek medical evaluation as quickly as possible, especially if you are having other symptoms such as blurry vision or different sized pupils.

Why does one of my eyelids droop more than the other?

You may have one eyelid that has drooped more than the other ever since you were born. In this case, there is unlikely to be any underlying medical cause. If the drooping eyelid develops later in life, it may be caused by a process occurring only on that side. Possible conditions include a tumor on the eyelid, nerve injury, or an infection.

Can drooping eyelids cause vision problems?

Severely drooping eyelids (ptosis) can obscure your vision by blocking the eyes. In addition, eyelid drooping in early childhood can cause long-term visual problems due to the brain “favoring” the unobstructed eye. A child with a drooping eyelid should be regularly monitored, and the eyelid should be surgically corrected if visual problems in that eye begin to develop.

Can a drooping eyelid be a sign of a stroke?

Sudden eyelid drooping (ptosis) is a possible sign of a stroke. Depending on the location of the stroke, one or both eyelids can be affected. If a stroke is the cause of eyelid drooping, other symptoms will often be present, such as one-sided weakness or blurry vision.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Drooping Eyelid

  • Q.How severe is your headache?
  • Q.How fatigued are you?
  • Q.Is your fatigue getting any better or worse?
  • Q.Is your fatigue constant or come-and-go?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our drooping eyelid symptom checker.

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Drooping Eyelid Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced drooping eyelid have also experienced:

    • 6% Fatigue
    • 5% Headache
    • 4% Throbbing Headache

Drooping Eyelid Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having drooping eyelid.

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