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How Eyelid Surgery Improves Vision

Sometimes an eyelift is medically necessary to improve your sight.

Eyelid Surgery

"When you’re older and have heavy eyelids, it doesn’t mean you need a nap. It means you need to see a doctor, especially if your heavy lids affect your ability to see well.

Called ptosis (toe-sis), it’s when the eyelid skin hangs too low or you have excess skin in your upper eyelid. Either way, it’s like a window shade that is coming down. “It’s almost like you’re looking through a keyhole rather than getting your full vision,” says plastic surgeon Randolph Wojcik Jr., MD, with LVPG Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery–1243 Cedar Crest. “Drooping eyelid skin affects the upper half of the eye and blocks the upper field of vision,” Wojcik says.

Test for Lost Vision

When ophthalmologist Christine Saad, MD, with LVPG Ophthalmology–17th Street, sees people with heavy eyelids, they often don’t know that their eyelids are a problem. “They say things like, ‘My eyes look like they’re getting smaller’ or ‘My eyes are tired all the time,’” she says.

One of Saad’s patients is Barbara Schenk of Emmaus. Schenk gave up books because her droopy eyelids made reading a strain. “I couldn’t read more than a few pages at a time, so I stopped,” she says.

Saad conducted a vision field test with Schenk. “We can demonstrate with test results and photographs that a person has lost a significant part of his or her vision,” Saad says. The test proved Schenk’s vision was compromised and could benefit from eyelid surgery. “That means eyelid surgery, also known as blepharoplasty, is functional and not cosmetic, and is often covered by insurance.”

A Functional Eyelift

Plastic surgeon Marshall Miles, DO, with LVPG Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery–1243 Cedar Crest, says outpatient blepharoplasty surgery is focused on restoring visual function by removing excess skin. “You make an incision in the upper eye crease, remove the excess skin, put in delicate sutures, and then do the other eye,” he says. Recovery is 10 to 14 days.

It’s a surgery Wojcik believes more people could benefit from. “Since this surgery is needed to improve your vision, most insurance plans will cover it. And by removing the droopy skin, many people tell me they look younger,” he says.

For Schenk, daily life is better since her surgery. “My vision is no longer blurry, and I can read or watch television without eyestrain,” she says.

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