Ectropion eye, and this keeps them free

Ectropion is a condition that affects your eyelids – part of the eyelid flips outward, exposing the inner eyelid and the eye itself. Read this lesson to learn why this happens, what the symptoms are, and how to treat it.

What is Ectropion?

Have you ever noticed an elderly person with abnormal eyelids? In fact, it looks like part of their lower eyelid is flipped inside out. This is a condition called ectropion, and it commonly affects older individuals.

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Cases of ectropion can be minor or major. Minor cases only involve a segment of the eyelid sagging down and flipping outward, whereas major cases can involve the entire lower eyelid or both the upper and lower eyelids.

This individual has ectropion in both eyes, as evident by the redness of each lower eyelid.

Causes of Ectropion

What would cause your eyelid to sag away from your eye like this? Sometimes the answer is as simple as muscle weakness.

As you age, your muscles and tendons lose their elasticity, causing various parts to begin sagging. Your eyelids are no exception. They are positioned by muscles and corresponding tendons, and when they lose elasticity they can droop. Another cause of ectropion is facial paralysis, which can develop as a result of other diseases or conditions. Skin conditions or growths can cause the skin to stretch away from the underlying muscle or tissues too, and this would also cause the eyelid to eventually sag a little. Sometimes, the condition is present at birth, and sometimes, it develops after the use of certain medications (like eye drops) or after surgery on or around the eyes.

Symptoms of Ectropion

The primary problem with ectropion is that your eyelid isn’t washing away debris or wetting your eye. When you blink, the eyelids distribute tears over your eye, and this keeps them free of debris and functioning properly. Without this lubrication, the eyes can become dry and irritated. Symptoms of ectropion may include excessive dryness or excessive tearing as your body tries to compensate for dryness.

Treatment Options

So what do you do if ectropion develops? Tear drops and ointment to help keep the eye lubricated and help protect the eye from becoming damaged after initial diagnosis.

Additional protection can be added by wearing bandaging or an eye patch. However, ectropion usually requires surgery to fully correct the eyelid. For ectropion caused by loss of muscle elasticity, a patient may get an outpatient procedure where some of the excess skin is removed, and the lid is sutured back together, effectively tightening the tendons and muscles.

However, if a previous surgery is to blame, a skin graft may be done to help support the lower eyelid, preventing further droop. For facial paralysis, it’s hard to predict how surgery will help; however, most cases of ectropion can be surgically fixed.

Lesson Summary

Ectropion is a condition where the eyelid – usually the lower eyelid – droops, sags, or flips away from the eye. This can cause dryness, irritation, or vision impairment because the eyeball isn’t being kept wet enough to function normally. The most common cause of ectropion is simply age. Muscle and tendons lose elasticity over time, and this results in the eyelid sagging or flipping away from the eye.

However, other conditions like some diseases or medications, as well as certain skin conditions can also cause ectropion to develop. Eye drops, medications, and covering the eye can help temporarily ease symptoms, but ultimately surgery will need to be performed to fix the situation. Luckily, surgically fixing the eyelid usually results in the problem being fixed with little recovery time.Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.


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