​Many people go to private clinics – or even overseas – for cosmetic eye surgery, but few realise that the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), a member of the SingHealth group, performs these procedures as well.

Specialists at SNEC’s Oculoplastic Service, who deal with medical conditions affecting the eyes, also perform surgery – creating double eyelids, removing eye bags and correcting droopy eyelids – for aesthetic reasons. All three are cosmetic concerns, but droopy eyelids can turn into a medical condition if they begin to affect sight, which sometimes happens in older patients.

Droopy eyelids

Clin Assoc Prof Sunny Shen, Head and Senior Consultant at the Oculoplastic Department at SNEC said, "Having droopy eyelids is like having a curtain in front of your eyes."

They are caused by weak levator muscles – the muscles which create double eyelids and are responsible for raising the eyelids. Some people are born with weak levator muscles, but most find these muscles weaken through wear and tear with age, giving rise to droopy eyelids. Clin Assoc Prof Shen added if the problem is just a case of slight asymmetry between the eyes, it may be a cosmetic concern, but if it affects vision and normal activities, it becomes a medical condition.

People with droopy eyelids often find the top part of their vision blocked. In severe cases, they may even have to tilt their heads and lift their chins to see what is ahead of them. They tend to raise their eyebrows constantly to lift their eyelids, and this can cause headaches. They also suffer from eye strain and have difficulty reading for a long time when looking down. In young patients without congenital problems, the most common cause of weakening levator muscles is the use of contact lenses. Blinking makes the edges of the lenses rub constantly against the levator muscles, weakening them over time.

Fixing droopy eyelids

Some patients can be managed with medication and “crutches” (metal wires mounted on the back of spectacles to hold the upper eyelids open) but most need surgery to lift their upper eyelids, and in some cases, remove excess skin.

"But eyelids cannot be lifted too high as this can result in incomplete eye closure. Moisture can then escape from your eyes and you’ll end up developing corneal problems," said Clin Assoc Prof Shen.

In cases of congenital droopy eyelids, the surgery might also involve a sling operation, where a piece of tissue is used as a "sling" to connect the upper eyelid to the forehead muscle.

Read on to learn about aesthetic surgery for eye bags removal.

Ref. L20