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How to Fix Droopy Eyelids Without Surgery

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Droopy eyelids, or ptosis, can occur in children and later in life. Children with ptosis should visit their optometrist for regular eye exams to exclude other eye-related problems

Surgery is usually the treatment method of choice for droopy eyelids. A more recent option includes Upneeq eye drops. Let’s delve into what they are and how they work. 

What is Droopy Eyelids or Ptosis

Ptosis is when your eyelid sags a little or enough to partially or fully cover your pupil. It can affect one eye, called unilateral ptosis, or both eyes, called bilateral ptosis. 

Congenital ptosis is when it’s present at birth. In children, the levator muscle, responsible for lifting the eyelids, doesn’t develop as it should. Children with ptosis can develop amblyopia or lazy eye, which delays or limits their vision, astigmatism, and crossed eyes. 

When adults get ptosis, it’s called acquired ptosis. Adults can get it because of the natural aging process. With age, the levator muscle that once helps up the eyelids stretches or separates from the eyelid, causing the eyelid to droop. 

Symptoms of Droopy Eyelids

The main sign of droopy eyelids is sagging eyelids. Some cases are more noticeable than others. If it’s severe, it can affect vision. Other symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Migraine headaches
  • Tilting the head backward
  • Lifting the chin
  • Raising the eyebrows
  • Later, head and neck problems

Treatment for Droopy Eyes

Treatment for droopy eyes is usually surgery for cosmetic purposes, medical reasons, or vision impairment. For children, surgery involves tightening the levator muscle or attaching the eyelid to other muscles to help lift the eyelid. Surgery in children depends on age, whether one or both eyes are affected, and the strength of the eyelid muscle. 

Around 11.5% of adults have droopy eyes, many of whom don’t even know it’s a condition or it’s treatable. In adults, surgery can reattach the muscle to the eyelid and help the eyelid muscles function better. Treatment also depends on the cause, as ptosis can result from:

  • A side effect of certain eye surgeries
  • Injury or trauma to the eyelid muscles
  • Damage to the nerves that control the eyelid muscles
  • Botox injection complications
A young adult woman, joyful and smiling, holding a daisy in front on her left eye, as she's standing against a yellow backdrop

Upneeq Eye Drops

For patients who have limited treatment options or are not candidates for surgery, there is an alternative treatment method for droopy eyes. Upneeq are FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved prescription eye drops used to treat droopy eyes in adults.

Upneeq eye drops work on the levator muscle that lifts the eyelid by contracting it and allowing the eyelid to open, giving you a more alert appearance. The eye drop will cause the droopy eyelid to rise 1 to 2 millimeters for better vision. This result is not as dramatic as surgery but can benefit many patients. 

Upneeq (oxymetazoline hydrochloride ophthalmic solution) contains the active ingredient oxymetazoline. Oxymetazoline is an antagonist that triggers the levator muscle to contract and lift the upper eyelid. 

One drop is applied to each affected eye once a day to maintain the effect and is safe to use long-term. Consult your eye doctor when determining the length of treatment. 

Upneeq is safe for contact lens wearers. Remove your contact lenses, apply the eye drops and replace them after 15 minutes. Common side effects include:

  • Eye inflammation
  • Inflammation of the cornea
  • Eye redness
  • Dry eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye irritation
  • Headache
  • Eye pain at the time of using drops

Upneeq is suitable for anyone with mild, moderate, or severe ptosis. It is also okay if you are not on any other medication that will interfere with Upneeq eye drops. It can interfere with the following prescribed medication that affects blood pressure and amine metabolism:

  • Anti-hypertensive medications
  • Beta-blockers
  • Cardiac glycosides
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors

Speak to your eye doctor about any conditions and medications you are taking to see if you are a candidate. Upneeq eye drops are not a suitable treatment for droopy eyelids caused by excess skin or saggy eyebrows and have not been tested or studied in children. 

Eyelid Lift Drops

Droopy eyelids can leave you looking tired, your eyes look smaller than usual, and can affect your vision. Upneeq eye drops provide an easy and convenient treatment for droopy eyes as an alternative to surgery. 


If you have any concerns with droopy eyelids or vision impairment, book an appointment with 20/20 Vision Associates Optometry today.

Written by Dr. Cheryl Everitt

Cheryl M. Everitt, OD, received her Doctor of Optometry degree from the Southern California College of Optometry in Fullerton, California in 1994. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from California State University, Fullerton. Dr. Everitt takes a special interest in treating patients with a variety of difficult eye conditions, such as chronic headaches and migraines. Dr. Everitt has been a conference speaker on topics ranging from contact lenses to practice management to trigeminal dysphoria. She has also participated in a mobile eye clinic in Riverside, and medical missions to Mexico. Dr. Everitt is one of the original founders of 20/20 Vision Associates Optometry and has practiced for 25 years. She was an associate research scientist for 4 years prior to becoming an optometrist. She is also an active member of her church.
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