Some people call this a hooded lid, but for me, that means smooth skin hovering in symmetry over both eyeballs.
Think about the smoldering sexiness of classic Hollywood star Robert Mitchum, or the gentle vulnerability of
Sylvester Stallone as boxer Rocky Balboa.
My lid looked nothing like this.
First, given that it was a single eye, my whole face appeared lopsided. And while the droop didn’t reach my pupil, which was sure to impede my sight big time, I immediately worried that it could.
It’s not like I haven’t treated the skin around my peepers with care.
Starting in my late 20s, I rolled a vitamin E stick around the area every morning and evening, a ritual that lasted
for decades. Thanks to the inevitability of aging, there’s no escaping the wrinkles there now. Getting a good night’s
sleep makes them less visible, but trying to apply the shimmery eye shadows of my youth left that train station
a long time ago.
Nonetheless, this droop added a new twist, and not in a good way.
After obsessing in the mirror for more than a few minutes, I asked the Hubster to look at my left eye. Then, he was instructed to tell me the difference between that eye and the other.
He wrinkled his brow. “Do you have deeper crow’s feet on that side?” he asked.
This wasn’t what I needed to hear. When I pointed out the problem, he said, “So what? We’re old!”
Again, not the optimum response. So instead, I went to my laptop.
Luckily, Harvard Health Publishing, a division of its famed medical school, had the answers I needed. And, perhaps not surprisingly, there’s not one reason for droopy eyelids, but several.
Take blepharitis, a fancy word for inflammation of the lids which might be from a bacterial infection. A second possibility is ectropion, which causes the muscles of the lower lid to weaken, making the lid sag and turn outward away from the eyeball. As a result, the upper and lower lids can’t meet when the eye is closed. Another culprit is blepharochalais, which occurs when eyelid skin loses its elasticity. Brand new folds then appear, which could hang over lashes and block the upper field of vision.
I’ll admit to chuckling when I read that Botox injections can also cause droopy lids. While these shots work well to temporarily smooth brow and forehead wrinkles, the sagging side effect can last up to four months.
Eliminating all of the above led to what I likely have.
The official name is ptosis—but really, it’s another indignity of aging.
As a physician friend pointed out, gravity always gets us in the end—whether that means breasts pointing down; jiggly upper arms that could star in a Jell-O commercial, or a no-longer-perky rear end.
Like the above examples, the muscles in my eyelid are sagging because those muscles have begun to lose the strength they once had. Also, in People of A Certain Age, ptosis is the primary reason for lazy lids.
In my case, heredity might also be a factor.
As I began researching this piece, I remembered that for as long as I could remember, my father squinted out of one eye. The more I thought about it, I realized this wasn’t the case at all, but rather, a droopy eyelid which got markedly worse with each birthday.
By the time my dad passed in his 70s, that lid covered most of his pupil. The procedure done to correct the imperfection never happened, and to my knowledge, he simply accepted that he could only see out of one eye.
His younger brother, my Uncle Joe, had not one but two age-related droopy lids. But when they began to mess with his vision at around age 70, he opted for surgery on both lids. Actor Jack Lemmon had the same thing done, and both were left with a permanent but not unpleasant look of surprise afterwards.
Thankfully, the repair job isn’t that big of a deal.
According to Harvard Health, it’s performed on an outpatient basis under local or general anesthesia. Also, most health insurers cover the cost, but only if the ptosis affects vision. When and if that happens, I’ll see a specialist to determine if this is the appropriate next step.
To this end, I’ve put the Hubster on notice that if one eye begins to look like I’m winking 24/7, it might be time to step up my game toward surgery.
So far, though, so good.
For this, I’m blessed and grateful.
What health issues run in your family that could likely need attention as you age?