Low probability of myasthenia Gravis in patients presenting to neuro-ophthalmology clinic for evaluation of isolated ptosis

Eur J Ophthalmol. 2023 Jan;33(1):524-529. doi: 10.1177/11206721221107300. Epub 2022 Jun 9.


Background: Concerning causes of ptosis, most notably third nerve palsy and Horner's syndrome, can be ruled out with normal ocular motility and pupillary examination. Myasthenia gravis (MG) however, rarely can present with ptosis as an isolated finding. We reviewed all patients presenting to tertiary neuro-ophthalmology practice with ptosis of unknown etiology to determine the frequency of MG.

Methods: Retrospective chart review of patients referred to a tertiary neuro-ophthalmology practice with undifferentiated ptosis.

Results: Sixty patients were included in the study. Twenty eight (47%) patients had ptosis along with various abnormalities of ocular motility and/or alignment and 32 (53%) had isolated unilateral ptosis defined as ptosis with absence of diplopia, or symptoms of generalized MG (GMG). Final diagnosis was aponeurotic ptosis due to levator palpebrae dehiscence in the majority (73%) of patients, while 10 (17%) were diagnosed with MG (6 with OMG, 4 with GMG). Diplopia was present in 9/10 patients with MG and 8/10 had abnormal ocular findings on clinical examination such as orbicularis oculi weakness, Cogan's lid twitch or fatiguability of ptosis on sustained upgaze. Only one patient referred for isolated unilateral ptosis was diagnosed with OMG and this patient had orbicularis oculi weakness.

Conclusions: None of the patients with isolated unilateral ptosis and otherwise normal examination had MG. All patients eventually diagnosed with MG had diplopia or orbicularis weakness on examination. Thus, the yield of investigating patients with isolated ptosis for MG is exceedingly low.

Keywords: diplopia; myasthenia gravis; ptosis; sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blepharoptosis* / diagnosis
  • Blepharoptosis* / etiology
  • Diplopia / diagnosis
  • Diplopia / etiology
  • Humans
  • Myasthenia Gravis* / complications
  • Myasthenia Gravis* / diagnosis
  • Ophthalmology*
  • Probability
  • Retrospective Studies