What is Ectropion?

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 vs Entropion

In normal circumstances, the upper and lower eyelids work together to protect the eye from external damage; however, entropion and ectropion are two types of conditions that prevent the eyelids from closing properly and can lead to severe damage to the ocular surface if not treated.

  • Ectopion occurs when the lower eyelid skin loosens and no longer hugs the lower surface of the eye. This can cause the conjunctiva and cornea to become exposed and highly irritated.
  • Entropion can affect both the upper and lower eyelids and is when the eyelashes turn inwards towards may rub against the surface of the eye.

When you are seen by our board-certified oculofacial plastic surgeon, they can assess and determine the best course of treatment.

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.

Your eye doctor 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.

Ectropion repair is typically a brief, outpatient surgical procedure that is performed in our surgery center. Your eye surgeon will administer a local anesthetic and a light sedative. In ectropion cases that are caused by a weakening of the eyelid muscles, the ophthalmologist will typically remove a small area of eyelid tissue in order to tighten the tendons and skin around the eye.

In cases of ectropion caused by scar tissue or an injury, your eye surgeon will typically administer a skin graft to the eyelid in order to add healthy, supportive tissue to the area around the eye.

Ectropion Repair Recovery Process

The recovery process for ectropion repair is fairly minimal. Patients may be advised to wear an eye patch for 24 hours following the procedure to protect the eye and may take over-the-counter medications to help with any soreness or pain. Your eye surgeon will also give you medicated eye drops and ointment to help encourage the skin around the eye to heal.

It’s the right time for clearer vision

If you are experiencing symptoms of ectropion or another eyelid condition, please schedule a preliminary consultation. Our knowledgeable staff is here to answer all your questions about which procedure is best for you, and ensure you have the most comfortable experience possible. Make an appointment today at one of our eight convenient locations.

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