July 6, 2011

Seeing and Looking Your Best

By Peter Fries, M.D.
Eye Surgeons Associates

“The eyes are a window to the soul.” – Proverb

“What the eye does not admire, the heart does not desire.” – Proverb

“For Your Eyes Only.” – Sheena Easton

“Brown Eyed Girl.” – Van Morrison

Eyes have been the theme of proverbs, songs, and poems for centuries. Your eyes not only provide the function of seeing, but are also one of the first things people notice about you. Unfortunately, your eyes are also the first feature to show signs of aging. Hooded upper lids and sagging lower lids can give you an older, tired appearance and in many cases obstruct your field of vision. Fortunately, this can be fixed with a common outpatient procedure that can improve appearance and vision.

The upper eyelid functions as both a squeegee for the eye, spreading and smoothing tears over the cornea to achieve good vision and avoiding dryness, and as a protective barrier for the eye to help avoid trauma or injury. If the upper eyelid droops, called Ptosis, it may block the pupil causing limited field of vision, especially to the side or up. Blurred vision is common. Using a finger to lift the droopy eyelid immediately improves eyesight and peripheral vision.

Ptosis most commonly occurs due to stretching of the lifting muscle of the upper eyelid. The stretching can be due to repeated injury or trauma, frequent eyelid infections and swelling, and excessive lid rubbing, but mostly is due to aging alone. Ptosis may also occur from pregnancy, birth defect, eye surgery, and can be associated with certain nerve disorders. Nearly all Ptosis is corrected by shortening the stretched or weak lifting muscle in surgery.

The skin can also stretch under the eye causing bags to form on the lower lids and may limit your side vision in the upper eyelid. The procedure to remove this excess skin and fatty tissue is called blepharoplasty.

These eyelid procedures are typically performed under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. The eyes are not bandaged shut and vision is quite normal enabling reading and other activities to be enjoyed during the convalescence. There is swelling and bruising of the eyelid after surgery. Most of this is gone within five to seven days but can persist for up to 14 days in individuals that bruise easily.

The decision to have aesthetic eyelid surgery can be extremely rewarding clearing central blurry vision, restoring normal peripheral vision and improving the cosmetic appearance of the eyelids. Careful preoperative attention to eyelid abnormalities, associated brow problems, any potential eye or physical maladies and dialogue with the surgeon about the planned surgery and its outcome yields the most satisfying and lasting results. If the minimum criteria of vision loss is met, insurance will cover these procedures. However, if the improvements are only related to appearance, than the procedure will be considered elective. As with any surgery, there are risks. Please make sure to discuss these with your doctor. Then you can begin enjoying better vision and a more alert youthful appearance; and who knows you may become the inspiration for… or serenaded with songs like Frankie Valli’s “Can’t take my eyes off of you.”

Dr. Peter Fries, with Eye Surgeons Associates, is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and completed a fellowship in Ocular Oncology and Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He practices at our Bettendorf and Rock Island offices. For more information please visit our website at www.esaeyecare.com.