Symptoms of oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) usually do not begin until the mid-40s or 50s, but can occur earlier. A person with OPMD may first notice drooping eyelids (a condition known as ptosis), which gradually lead to tipping the head backward to see properly.
Alternatively, some people might first notice that they tend to choke frequently and may have other problems related to difficulty swallowing (called dysphagia). Most people with OPMD eventually develop some degree of both ptosis and dysphagia.
Eventual weakness of the muscles in the face and limbs is common. For instance, many people with OPMD report problems with kneeling, bending, squatting, walking and climbing stairs. Double vision and a “breathy” quality of the voice also may occur.