Your eyelids, made up of two folds of the thinnest skin on your body, serve very important purposes:
- They protect your eyes from dryness, foreign bodies, and excess strain.
- During sleep, your eyelids spread tears evenly around your eyes to keep them hydrated, help them rejuvenate by blocking light, and keep dust and debris out.
Sometimes, however, eyelids can become slack and droop. In more extreme cases, this can lead to problems with vision, cosmetic concerns, or additional health conditions.
Your upper eyelid is connected to a muscle that helps hold it in place and move it up and down to cover or uncover your eye. A smaller, supporting muscle helps with this process.
Additionally, a muscle under the skin of your eyebrow works to raise your eyelids from above. Weakness or damage in any or all three of these muscles or their tendons can cause your eyelid to droop.
Drooping anywhere on the body is known as ptosis, which comes from the Greek word for “falling.” In your eyelid, it’s called blepharoptosis from the Greek word for “eyelid.”
If you’re starting to notice that your eyes look more lax and tired, or your lids seem heavy, droopy eyelid exercises might help.
Although no scientific studies have been conducted to test how well this might work, researchers do know that using any muscle more often can counteract the effects of muscle weakness and deterioration, often resulting in greater muscular strength and a lifted appearance in the target area.
Cleansing, warming, and gently massaging your eyelids, even without a workout, has been shown to increase circulation and nerve responses. It also readies eyelids for an intentional workout by making muscles softer and more flexible.
Basic muscle stimulation
Direct stimulation alone may help to reduce ptosis, either through concentrated movement of the eye, or through use of a stimulating device, such as an electric toothbrush.
The mechanical pressure of the brush forces a reaction in the small muscles of the eyelid. Dedicate several minutes each day to stimulating your eyelids, even if you decide to try more than one method each time.
According to the National Stroke Association, forcing your eyelids to work out every hour may improve eyelid droop. You can work eyelid muscles by raising your eyebrows, placing a finger underneath and holding them up for several seconds at a time while trying to close them. This creates resistance similar to weight lifting. Quick, forcible blinks and eye rolls also work eyelid muscles.
Trataka yogic eye exercise
Designed for overall eye health and vision improvement, the Trataka yogic eye exercise is renowned among the ayurvedic community. Because eye movement is linked to eyelid movement, this exercise could be beneficial.
To practice this method, fix your eye or eyes with eyelid droop on a specific object and stare at it without averting your gaze for as long as you’re able. You’ll feel your eye muscles working as you do.
Eye patch workout
If only one of your eyelids droops, you may tend to use the other eye for more difficult tasks, just like you’d use your good hand or leg instead of one that’s injured.
To make sure that the weaker eyelid gets as much natural exercise as possible, you might want cover your good eye with a patch. This means that you’ll perform some eyelid exercises during the day without even realizing it.
There are a number of reasons that lids might sag. In most cases, eyelid droop either appears in childhood and is related to a genetic condition, or it happens gradually as muscles stretch out.
Whether or not droopy eyelid exercises improve your lids may depend on which of these conditions are the cause:
- age, which causes muscles, tendons, and skin to become weaker, lose volume, get laxer gradually
- incorrect placement of Botox injections which partially paralyze the muscles in the eyebrow or lid
- glaucoma eye drops cause fat loss in the eye area
- myasthenia gravis, which is a disease marked by fatigue and lack of muscle control
- third nerve palsy, a condition in which a nerve involved in movement of your eye is damaged
- neurological or paralytic disease
- eye injury
- autoimmune conditions
If one side of your face or one eye is drooping suddenly, this could indicate a stroke, which is a medical emergency. Call 911.
If sagging lids interfere with your ability to see or function, and exercises for droopy eyelids haven’t solved the problem, you can speak with your doctor about medical treatments.
For temporary cases of eyelid droop caused by Botox injection, one older study suggested that lopidine eyedrops may contribute to a faster recovery because they cause the eyelids to contract quickly, mimicking droopy eyelid exercises.
An upper eyelid blepharoplasty is a very popular plastic surgery technique that tightens and raises the eyelids. It’s most often an aesthetic procedure and isn’t covered by insurance unless a medical condition has caused the ptosis.
For severe cases of ptosis in which vision is being obstructed by eyelids, a fairly noninvasive, nonsurgical method that can help is called a ptosis crutch, which is a physical device that lifts the eyelids.
For medical cases of ptosis, a resection of the muscle is often used for mild cases. In moderate cases, a shortening of the main eyelid muscle may be performed. An eyebrow lift may be recommended for more severe cases.
Droopy eyelids are common. They’re most often caused by gradual aging and it may be possible to strengthen them with exercise.
If the droop is more severe or comes on suddenly, it may be a result of incorrect Botox injections, injury, or disease. There are a number of medical treatments that may help.