What is ectropion?
Ectropion is a condition in which the eyelid is turned outward (everted) so that its edge does not touch the eyeball.
How common is ectropion?
Ectropion is more common in older adults, and it generally affects only the lower eyelid. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of ectropion?
The common symptoms of ectropion are:
- Watery eyes (excessive tearing). Without proper drainage, your tears may pool and constantly flow over your eyelids.
- Excessive dryness. Ectropion can cause your eyes to feel dry, gritty and sandy.
- Stagnant tears or dryness can irritate your eyes, causing a burning sensation and redness in your eyelids and the whites of your eyes.
- Sensitivity to light. Stagnant tears or dry eyes can irritate the surface of the cornea, making you sensitive to light.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
See your doctor if your eyes are constantly watering or irritated, or your eyelid seems to be sagging or drooping.
Seek immediate care if you have been diagnosed with ectropion and you experience:
- Rapidly increasing redness in your eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Decreasing vision
These are signs and symptoms of cornea exposure or ulcers, which can harm your vision.
What causes ectropion?
Generally the condition is the result of tissue relaxation associated with aging, although it may also occur as a result of facial nerve paralysis (due to Bell’s palsy, stroke or other nurologic conditions), trauma, scarring, previous surgeries or skin cancer.
What increases my risk for ectropion?
There are many risk factors for ectropion, such as:
- The most common cause of ectropion is weakening muscle tissue associated with aging.
- Previous eye surgeries. People who have had eyelid surgery are at higher risk of developing ectropion later.
- Previous cancer, burns or trauma. If you’ve had spots of skin cancer on your face, facial burns or trauma, you’re at higher risk of developing ectropion.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is ectropion diagnosed?
Ectropion can usually be diagnosed with a routine eye exam and physical. Your doctor may pull on your eyelids during the exam or ask you to close your eyes forcefully. This helps him or her assess your eyelid’s muscle tone and tightness.
If your ectropion is caused by a scar, tumor, previous surgery or radiation, your doctor will examine the surrounding tissue as well.
Understanding how other conditions cause ectropion is important in choosing the correct treatment or surgical technique.
How is ectropion treated?
If your ectropion is mild, your doctor might recommend artificial tears and ointments to ease the symptoms. Surgery is generally required to fully correct ectropion.
The type of surgery you have depends on the condition of the tissue surrounding your eyelid and on the cause of your ectropion:
- Ectropion caused by muscle and ligament relaxation due to aging. Your surgeon will likely remove a small part of your lower eyelid at the outer edge. When the lid is stitched back together, the tendons and muscles of the lid will be tightened, causing the lid to rest properly on the eye. This procedure is generally relatively simple.
- Ectropion caused by scar tissue from injury or previous surgery. Your surgeon might need to use a skin graft, taken from your upper eyelid or behind your ear, to help support the lower lid. If you have facial paralysis or significant scarring, you might need a second procedure to completely correct your ectropion.
Before surgery, you’ll receive a local anesthetic to numb your eyelid and the area around it. You may be lightly sedated using oral or intravenous medication to make you more comfortable, depending on the type of procedure you’re having and whether it’s done in an outpatient surgical clinic.
After surgery you might need to:
- Wear an eye patch for 24 hours
- Use an antibiotic and steroid ointment on your eye several times a day for one week
- Use cold compresses periodically to decrease bruising and swelling
After surgery you will likely experience:
- Temporary swelling
- Bruising on and around your eye
Your eyelid might feel tight after surgery. But as you heal it will become more comfortable. Stitches are usually removed about a week after surgery. You can expect the swelling and bruising to fade in about two weeks.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage ectropion?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with ectropion:
- Use eye lubricants. Artificial tears and eye ointments can help keep your cornea lubricated and prevent vision-threatening damage. Using an eye ointment and wearing a moisture shield over your eye is particularly useful overnight.
- Wipe your eyes carefully. Constantly wiping watery eyes can make your under-eye muscles and tendons stretch even further, worsening your ectropion. Wipe from the outer eye up and in toward the nose.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Ectropion. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ectropion/symptoms-causes/syc-20351164. Accessed October 11, 2017.
Entropion and Ectropion. http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/eye-disorders/eyelid-and-tearing-disorders/entropion-and-ectropion. Accessed October 11, 2017.
ECTROPION. https://www.asoprs.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=3650. Accessed October 11, 2017.
Review Date: October 9, 2017 | Last Modified: October 13, 2017