Healthy Aging

Eyelid Surgery for Seniors May Reduce Fall Risk

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By Henry Ford Health System Staff

When winter arrives, so does the annual grumbling over the weather, the fight to stave off seasonal affective disorder, and the increased risk for falls due to slippery conditions.

For seniors, it is even worse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of falling increases with each decade of life. Seniors also face greater health risks when they do sustain a fall.

“When a senior falls, they can hit their head, break a hip or sustain other life-altering injuries,” says ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgeon Swapna Vemuri, M.D.

There are many tips you can follow to help minimize fall risk, including having your eyes checked every year and maintaining a current prescription for your eyeglasses or contact lenses. However, for those with another age-related condition, this may not be enough.

Ptosis: Dangers of the droop
As we age, the skin of our upper eyelids can droop, a condition known as ptosis, which can give your eyes a sad or tired appearance.

“While there are cosmetic issues with ptosis, the eyelids can also obscure your vision, including peripheral vision, and increase your fall risk,” Dr. Vemuri says. “In addition, activities such as driving or reading can become much more difficult.”

Improving vision through plastic surgery
Eyelid surgery uses several techniques to help improve vision. Depending on the individual, these may include:

  • Removing extra skin and fat
  • Tightening the muscle that opens your eyelid

Eyelid surgery may help restore blocked vision, reducing the risk for falls and improving overall quality of life.

“A related procedure known as a brow lift also may help some seniors,” Dr. Vemuri says. “This is done in cases where the eyebrows are drooping, also contributing to the obscured vision.”

Is ophthalmic plastic surgery right for me?
If drooping eyelids or eyebrows are affecting your vision, the first step is a consultation with an ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgeon to determine if eyelid surgery or a brow lift may be right for you. During this consultation, your surgeon will take your medical history, perform an eye exam, and discuss the results. If you are a candidate, your surgeon will then discuss the procedure in detail, including informing you of any potential benefits and risks.

Watch this short video of Dr. Vemuri explaining the procedure and how it can help:

Swapna Vemuri, M.D., is an ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgeon seeing patients at the Henry Ford OptimEyes Super Vision Centers in Southfield and Sterling Heights, and at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

For an appointment, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (1-800-436-7936).