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Ophthal Plast Reconstr Surg. 2011 Sep-Oct;27(5):360-3. doi: 10.1097/IOP.0b013e31821c4c6f.

Human immunodeficiency virus-associated blepharoptosis.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.



To better characterize an unusual blepharoptosis observed in HIV-positive patients and to evaluate histopathology.


This retrospective case series evaluated patients with HIV/AIDS and blepharoptosis with reduced levator excursion. Exclusion criteria included patients with identifiable causes of ptosis (e.g., aponeurotic dehiscences, prior eyelid trauma or surgery), known myopathic/neuropathic systemic disorders, congenital ptosis, cranial neuropathies, and systemic infiltrative processes.


All 10 patients had bilateral symptomatic blepharoptosis. All patients (100%) were men with a mean age at presentation of 54 years (range, 42-77 years). Mean duration of HIV infection among 7 of 10 patients was 19 years (range, 13-24 years). Mean (±SD) MRD1 was 0.7 (±0.8) OD and 0.6 (±0.8) OS. Mean (±SD) levator excursion was 12 (±2.3) OD and 13 (±1.8) OS (normal levator excursion >15 mm). No patient was taking zidovudine (AZT) at the time of presentation. Nine patients (90%) underwent large bilateral levator resections for correction of blepharoptosis. Histopathologic specimens revealed abnormal levator muscle fibers with various degrees of atrophy, fibrosis, and regeneration without inflammation.


The HIV-associated blepharoptosis observed among patients in this study is most consistent with a myopathy. Levator muscle histopathologic findings are virtually identical to muscle biopsies in individuals with HIV-associated myopathy, described before the advent of AZT or highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Surgical management with levator resection provides optimal correction of HIV-associated blepharoptosis.

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