People may describe eyelids that sag excessively as droopy. Droopy eyelids can change a person’s appearance or cause problems such as obscured vision.
The medical term for something that droops on the body is ptosis. Blepharoptosis is the specific term for eyelid drooping.
Although there is no scientific evidence that exercises can improve droopy eyelids,
This article outlines some exercises that people with droopy eyelids can try.
No research on exercises for droopy eyelids exists.
However, the results of a
It is possible that exercises targeting the muscles around the eye may lead to a modest improvement in eyelid drooping if a person performs them regularly.
To determine whether exercises improve ptosis, it is useful to understand the
- weakness in the upper eyelid levator muscles
- dysfunction of the nerves that control the muscle
- loose or excess skin on the eyelids
Ptosis can occur in one or both eyes at any age.
When a doctor diagnoses ptosis in someone younger than 1 year old, it is called congenital ptosis. According to a
- weakness of the upper eyelid muscles
- genetic or chromosomal abnormalities
- neurologic dysfunction
People who develop ptosis later in life have what is called acquired ptosis. As a person ages, the eyelid muscles responsible for raising and lowering the eyelid can weaken and cause sagging. The skin and tendons of the upper eyelid also become looser. Other factors that may trigger acquired ptosis include:
- degenerative disorders
- hereditary disorders
- tumors around or behind the eye
- myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disorder that results in muscle weakness and fatigue
- Horner’s syndrome
- swelling in the eyelid
- Botox injections that accidentally paralyze the muscles of the upper eyelid or eyebrow
- Bell’s palsy
- giant papillary conjunctivitis
There are no specific exercises that researchers have proven to improve eyelid drooping, but exercises that target the muscles around the eye may have some benefit. Exercises a person can try include:
This exercise is extremely simple to perform.
- Open the eyes as wide as possible for about 5 seconds.
- Relax the eyes for 5 seconds.
- Continue for 30 seconds.
This exercise targets the frontalis muscle of the forehead, which connects to the levator muscles of the eyelid.
- Place the hands on the forehead and push against it with light pressure.
- Using the forehead muscles, try to raise the forehead up for 5 seconds.
- Repeat 5–10 times.
A person can perform this exercise by following the steps below.
- Use two fingers to press gently against each temple.
- Open and close the eyes rapidly.
- Continue for about 20 seconds.
This exercise involves a few simple steps.
- Lightly place one finger at the end of each eyebrow facing forward.
- Using the facial muscles, look down as far as possible.
- Allow the eyeballs to gaze from one side to the other like a pendulum.
- Continue for about 20 seconds.
- Open the eyes as wide as possible while gazing upward.
- At the same time, stick the tongue out and down as far as it will go.
- Hold for 5–10 seconds while exhaling with a “haaa” breath.
Some people may find these exercises beneficial, while others may notice no difference. Repeating the exercises several times each day is likely to produce the most benefit in those who do see a change.
Droopy eyelids do not always require treatment, but some people may worry that they create a tired appearance and wish to correct them.
In some cases, droopy eyelids can obscure the vision, particularly the peripheral vision. Additionally, ptosis in infants can lead to lazy eye (amblyopia), and an ophthalmologist will usually recommend surgery.
An oculoplastic or plastic surgeon performs ptosis surgery. A person can usually have surgery and go home the same day.
A local anesthetic will numb the eye and the surrounding area. The surgeon may only need to make a small adjustment to the levator muscle. For more severe cases, they may need to strengthen the levator muscle and reattach it to the eyelid.
Although surgery is safe, it does not always correct the problem, and people may need additional surgery. A 2018 review found that among 1,519 people, 8.7% needed further surgery to correct ptosis.
Doctors may prescribe an eye drop medication called oxymetazoline to adults with acquired or congenital ptosis. This medication encourages the eyelids to open wider. For the best results, a person should apply these drops every day. Oxymetazoline is not effective for ptosis resulting from injury or nerve problems.
A person should talk with their doctor about their drooping eyelids if:
- their vision is restricted
- the appearance of droopy eyelids is causing distress
- their eyelids begin to droop relatively suddenly
Infants with droopy eyelids should receive medical attention if:
- they tilt their head back to see better
- they run into things hanging overhead and seem to have poor peripheral vision
- they say they have trouble seeing
A doctor will investigate the cause of droopy eyelids. They will ask a person whether they have any family members with ptosis and whether anything in their medical history might predispose them to the condition. The doctor will also ask about recent Botox injections, trauma, and ocular surgery.
Once a doctor has identified the cause of ptosis, they can recommend the best treatment option.
A range of factors can cause droopy eyelids. The eyelids may also droop because of aging.
Although there is no evidence that exercises for droopy eyelids actually work, some people believe that exercising the muscles of the face can strengthen and tighten them.
If droopy eyelids are obscuring vision or having a negative effect on a person, they should consult their doctor.