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What is ptosis?
Ptosis describes drooping of one or both eyelids and can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired. If left untreated, ptosis and other eyelid problems can cause:
- “Lazy eye” (amblyopia): Inability of one eye to see well (in spite of glasses or other means)
- Eyesight problems such as astigmatism (poor eyesight caused by irregular eye shape)
- Permanent disfigurement
Learn more about our Ophthalmology program at Children’s National Hospital.
Some known causes of eyelid problems include:
Common eyelid abnormalities in babies and children include the following:
- Ptosis, congenital or acquired, causing partial or complete (covering the eye to varying degrees)
- Birthmarks or growths on the eyelids
- Chalazia: Inflamed cysts that develop when an eyelid oil gland is blocked
- Stye (hordeolum): Bacterial infection of the eyelash follicles
Problems with your child’s eyelids are usually easy to see. Some common symptoms include:
- Drooping eyelid
- Eyelid that is turned outward or inward
- Redness, swelling or pimple-like bumps on the eyelid
- Pain or tenderness in the eyelid
- Backward head tilt to compensate for partially closed eyelids
If your child’s pediatrician suspects ptosis or other eyelid abnormalities, he or she may refer you to an ophthalmologist for further diagnosis and management.
Many eyelid problems, such as styes or chalazia, can be treated at home. Some of the things you can do include:
- Gentle cleaning of the eyelids with a warm, wet washcloth
- Warm compresses for 15 minutes, four times a day for 7-10 days
- Application of eye drops or ointment
If your child’s ptosis or other eyelid problems is more serious, your pediatrician may recommend further treatment. At Children’s National Hospital, our goal is to restore normal eyelid function so that your child can see normally. We offer the following treatment options:
- Antibiotics for recurring infections or inflammation of the eyelids
- Surgery to drain styes or chalazia
- Surgery to correct the eyelid position and shape for ptosis
Chief Emeritus, Ophthalmology
Division Chief, Ophthalmology
Chair, Pediatric Ophthalmology Fellowship Program
Our specialized pediatric ophthalmologists are experts at recognizing and treating complex eye conditions in infants and children.
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