What is Floppy Eyelid Syndrome and How is it Related to Sleep Apnea?

I talk to many people I encounter in my day-to-day activities about sleep apnea. Recently, I went for my routine eye check and my opthamolgist told me that he can diagnose sleep apnea too!

Most often, he has discovered sleep apnea when one of his patients is sedated for surgery, but less often he sees an eye disorder that is almost always associated with sleep apnea, called floppy eye syndrome.


What is floppy eyelid syndrome?

Floppy eyelid syndrome (FES) is an eye disorder that is under-diagnosed. Symptoms include irritation and itching of they eyes, especially upon waking.

The disorder is characterized by the eyelids becoming loose and rubbery and easily flipping over, like when rolling over in bed and the eyelid comes in contact with the pillow.

Who gets floppy eyelid syndrome?

It is most common in overweight, middle-aged men, similar to sleep apnea (learn more about risk factors for sleep apnea here). 

It is associated with keratoconus (visual distortions like ghosting, multiple images, glare, halos, or blurred vision) and lash ptosis (eyelashes that point out from the eye horizontally or downward).

How is floppy eyelid syndrome related to sleep apnea?

A 2010 study looked at 102 patients with FES and a control group of another 102 patients. 90% of study participants with FES also had obstructive sleep apnea.

A 2012 study of 127 people suspected of having obstructive sleep apnea found that 25.8% of those with OSA also had FES and of those with more severe OSA (AHI over 30, learn about AHI here), 40% had FES. The researchers concluded that severe OSA may be an independent risk factor for FES.

Researchers aren’t exactly sure why. In addition to shared risk factors (obesity, age), it could be that those with OSA have greater tissue elasticity which also affects incidence of FES,

According to Dr. Brad Sutton, OD, FAAO, of the Indiana University School of Optometry, “The incidence of sleep apnea in patients with floppy eyelid syndrome (FES) is essentially 100%.”

Dr. Sutton urges his patients with FES to get tested for sleep apnea.

How is floppy eye syndrome treated?

FES is often treated as eye irritation with drops before the patients are properly diagnosed. However, finding out if the patient has sleep apnea and then treating the sleep apnea is the best approach as this will likely improve the FES.

Dr. Sutton’s treatment approach is three parts:

  1. Using a thick lubricating ointment at night.
  2. Sleeping with a cylindrical pillow to minimize contact with the eye and the pillow at night.
  3. Wearing a firm sleep mask or taping the eyelids down to prevent eversion (flipping).

If those treatments don’t work, surgery to tighten the eyelid tissue may be required.

If you or a loved one suffers from floppy eye syndrome, talk to your doctor. If you suspect that you suffer from sleep apnea, we can help.

Request sleep study


  • Chambe, Juliette, et al. “Floppy eyelid syndrome is associated with obstructive sleep apnoea: a prospective study on 127 patients.” Journal of sleep research 21.3 (2012): 308-315.
  • Ezra, Daniel G., et al. “The associations of floppy eyelid syndrome: a case control study.” Ophthalmology117.4 (2010): 831-838.
  • http://www.healio.com/optometry/primary-care-optometry/news/online/%7Beaa4699c-6917-4c7f-ba59-ac01b7d01e6b%7D/speaker-suspect-sleep-apnea-in-all-cases-of-floppy-eyelid-syndrome

Other posts you may find interesting:


  1. orthea harcum Reply

    i have floppy eyelids i use a cpap

  2. Bev Tiding Reply

    Seems like plastic surgeons who are frequently sought out for upper blepharoplasties should be strongly counseling these patients to have OSA testing.

  3. Gibson.Baron Reply

    A long way, you can finish step by step, and then you can’t reach without a foot

    • Nick Reply

      I think you should go back to your private chat with Joe Biden.

  4. scott tuley Reply

    Hi guys, does anyone know of any places that treat the floppy eyelid condition as in surgery? I have it myself due to my sleep apnea! Thanx

  5. Michele Severino Reply

    I am having surgery on both eyes this Thursday. My FES is due to my genetic condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Lower lid and upper lid tightened and blepharoplasties on hooding. Insurance is covering the FES surgery, paying out of pocket for the blepharoplasties.

  6. Health Blogs Reply

    Awesome blog. Keep writing.

  7. Fitness Articles Reply

    Very informative blog. Thank you.

  8. robbie Gareau Reply

    where can I get a firm sleeping eye mask for floppy eyelid syndrome and a cylindrical pillow for floppy eyelid syndrome? I have floppy eyelid syndrome in my left eye from pulling and streteching my upper left eyelid and my left eye allow feel so dry and uncomfortable and I put artificial tears and rewetting eye drops in both my eyes but more in my left eye than right eye

  9. Someone Reply

    Seems pretty obvious to me, the same underlying disorders causing muscular slack, low energy, and a weakening and atrophying of the body in general are causing both the eyelid issues and the apnea.. along with the obesity, face puffiness, etc.
    and if we could get endocrinologists to listen and actually deal with our obvious-symptom problems, instead of saying we must be fine because we scored the lowest possible hormone levels you can while still being in the “healthy range,” maybe we could solve these problems.

  10. Concerned Reply

    Only started getting sagging eyelids after using cpap. How to fix it?

  11. Connections game Reply

    Floppy Eyelid Syndrome (FES) is a condition characterized by laxity or looseness of the upper eyelids. It typically occurs in overweight individuals or those with sleep apnea. The eyelids become floppy and easily everted during sleep, leading to eye irritation, redness, and discharge upon awakening. FES is often underdiagnosed and can be mistaken for other eye conditions. Treatment options include conservative measures like eyelid hygiene, lubricating eye drops, and sleeping with a special sleep mask. In severe cases, surgical interventions such as eyelid tightening procedures may be considered. Consulting an ophthalmologist or oculoplastic surgeon is crucial for proper diagnosis and management of Floppy Eyelid Syndrome.

  12. drywall contractor Reply

    That is why I use thick lubricating ointment at night. Thank for the information.

  13. unblocked games 76 Reply

    Is it okay to tape your eyelid shut at night for floppy eyeid syndrome?

  14. connectionsnyt Reply

    Treatment options include conservative measures like eyelid hygiene, lubricating eye drops, and sleeping with a special sleep mask. In severe cases, surgical interventions such as eyelid tightening procedures may be considered.

  15. that's not my neighbor Reply

    This proactive and patient-centric approach is commendable and serves as a testament to the dedication of healthcare professionals in improving patient outcomes.

  16. Retro Bowl Reply

    Did you know your eye doctor could diagnose sleep apnea? Learn about the surprising connection between floppy eyelid syndrome and sleep apnea in this informative post.

  17. Spotify Reply

    Download the latest version of Spotify APK by sahad and enjoy the Songs free of cost.

  18. diago Reply

    Floppy eyelid syndrome is a condition that affects your eyelids’ elasticity. That means your eyelids sag and don’t pull back into place against your eyeballs like they should. It can signal a more serious condition — obstructive sleep apnea.

  19. Connections NYT Reply

    Very informative blog. Thanks for sharing with us.

  20. Banana Clicker Reply

    Just got my first rare banana in Banana Clicker! It’s amazing how a simple game can be so rewarding. Can’t wait to see what else I find.

Leave a Comment