Q:

What causes eyelids to droop as you age?

A:

Quick Answer

Eyelids sag with age because the fibers of the connective tissue within it reduce in number, strength and elasticity. Typically, this process starts at age 40, although scientists state that other factors predispose a person to the condition, including sun exposure, smoking and being male, overweight and fair-skinned. It also runs in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition.

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Full Answer

Sagging eyelids can sometimes be so bad that the eyelid skin covers the eyelashes. They can also lead to problems such as blocked vision and headaches, which can occur from trying to open one's eyes wide enough to see clearly. Sagging eyelids can also make a person look old and tired.

Connective tissue is made up of collagen and elastin fibers, which reduce in number and functionality as the body ages. The sun's harmful UV rays can also damage skin, and this mechanism is more pronounced in skin tones that do not tan.

Although the genetic predisposition to droopy eyelids does not have a ready solution, the other risk factors may be addressed by healthy lifestyle modifications. Smoking cessation, exercise and keeping a healthy body weight can slow the effects of aging and strengthen the body's connective tissue. Wearing sunglasses and a wide brim hat also help protect the eyelids from sun damage. Blepharoplasty, the most common surgical procedure to correct droopy eyelids, costs from $2,000 to $5,000, as of 2014.

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