Ectropion of the eye, is when your lower eyelid turns outward away from the eyeball and exposes the pink inner lining of the eyelid. It mainly affects the lower eyelid and can occur in one or both eyes and is different from entropion where the eyelids turn inward. Lower lid ectropion is very common in older persons and is said to be found more often in men than in women.
The most common symptoms of ectropion are; tearing, dry eyes and burning and can cause eye infections. Ectropion usually occurs as a result of the aging process. When the connective tissue of the eyelid becomes weaker, it causes the lid to turn out so that the edge of the lower lid is no longer against the eyeball. Other causes of ectropion may include facial paralysis related issues such as Bell’s Palsy, scar tissue from burns, or birth defects that occur before birth.
How do you treat ectropion?
In most cases, surgery is necessary to alleviate the symptoms of ectropion. Prior to surgery, your doctor may prescribe lubricating drops and in some cases skin tape to hold the lower lid in place. If your condition is caused by scar tissue, you doctor may recommend scar tissue stretching.
Surgery to treat ectropion is usually an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia. Depending on the severity of your condition, the operation usually consists of removing part of the lower eyelid and requires stitches below the eyelid or on the outside corner of your eye. Following surgery, you will need to wear an eye patch and may receive antibiotics to prevent infection and a steroid ointment. You may also find cold compresses and over-the-counter pain relievers helpful in reducing swelling and pain. The great thing is that many patients have no further symptoms following surgery after healing.