Ectropion is a “turning out” of the eyelid, typically occurring on the lower eyelid, where the skin of the inner eyelid is exposed either in one section of the eye or across the entire eyelid. This prevents tears from draining from the eye correctly, resulting in irritation.
Causes and Symptoms of Ectropion
While ectropion is most often caused by aging, it may also be a result of scarring around the eye, skin infections, facial paralysis, eyelid growths, or other injuries. This “turning out” of the eyelid often leaves part of the inner eyelid exposed. Due to this exposure, ectropion can create a number of other eye problems caused by irritation and improper fluid drainage.
The most common symptoms of ectropion include eye irritation and excessive dryness or tearing. The eyelids perform an important function in keeping the eye properly lubricated, and any malfunctioning of the eyelid will result in dryness or tearing. It is important to visit an ophthalmologist as soon as these symptoms manifest or if you notice your eyelid drooping, as continued irritation to the eye may result in more permanent damage or vision loss.
Ectropion Repair Procedure
The exact treatment method is dependent on the specific needs of the patient and the cause of ectropion:
- Ectropion due to muscle weakness: The surgery may involve the removal of a small section of eyelid to tighten the muscles in the area.
- Ectropion due to scars or prior surgery: The procedure may rely on a skin graft to allow a re-positioning of the eyelid.
Dr. Braunstein may recommend lubricating eye drops or eyelid tape for the temporary relief of ectropion symptoms. In order to protect the cornea and to alleviate long-term symptoms, however, most instances of ectropion must be treated surgically.