Ectropion is an eye condition in which the eyelid turns outward. It typically affects the lower eyelid, exposing the inner lid in either one section of eye or across the entire lid. Ectropion prevents tears from draining from the eye correctly, resulting in irritation. It usually occurs in older adults as a result of the aging process, during which muscles, tendons and connective tissue around the eyes progressively weaken. Those who have had trauma to the face or eyes are at greater risk of developing ectropion.
Causes Of Ectropion
In addition to aging, there are a number of causes of ectropion:
- Facial paralysis due to Bell's palsy or tumor
- Facial scarring from burns or other trauma
- Eyelid growths (malignant or benign)
- Previous eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty)
- Radiation of the eyelid to treat a cancerous growth
- Excessive sun exposure
- Rapid weight loss
- Cosmetic laser-skin resurfacing
- Certain eye drop medications, such as those used to treat glaucoma
In rare cases, ectropion is a congenital condition. It is usually found in infants with another genetic disorder, such as Down syndrome.
Symptoms Of Ectropion
In patients with ectropion, tears do not drain properly into the small openings on the inner part of the lid (puncta). This poor drainage causes several symptoms that include the following:
- Eye irritation and redness
- Excessive tearing
- Sensitivity to light
- Eyes that feel dry or gritty
Patients with ectropion should be aware of its possible complications, and report any worsening of symptoms immediately.
Complications Of Ectropion
Several serious complications, including the following, can result from ectropion:
- Corneal abrasions
- Corneal ulcers
- Eye infections
Evidence of complications includes eye pain, sensitivity to light or rapidly increasing redness, or a decrease in vision. Any worsening of ectropion symptoms is a sign that vision is in jeopardy and emergency treatment should be sought.
Treatment Of Ectropion
While there are temporary-relief treatments, such as artificial tears or soothing ointment, correction of ectropion is accomplished with a brief surgical procedure in which the eyelids are repositioned. For ectropion due to muscle weakness or scars from a previous surgery, the repair procedure may include the following:
- Stretching of scar tissue
- Removal of a small section of eyelid
- Skin graft to reposition the eyelid
A patient usually needs to wear an eye patch for 24 hours after surgery. During recovery, an antibiotic and steroid ointment must be administered. Though there may be some short-term bruising or swelling after the operation, the symptoms of ectropion usually resolve immediately.
Ectropion Treatment FAQs:
Will Ectropion Get Worse Without Treatment?
There is a high likelihood that the out-turned eyelid will worsen over time. Early treatments for ectropion focus on alleviating dryness and other symptoms and protecting the eye from abrasions. As you age and the tissue around your eye weakens, the eyelid may require surgical repair. Surgery may also eventually be needed to remove scar tissue that is pulling the eyelid outward if ectropion is the result of a traumatic eye injury.
How Do I Prepare for Ectropion Surgery?
If you and your doctor determine that surgery is needed to correct your ectropion, you will receive detailed pre-surgical care instructions. It is important to follow your doctor's instructions. These are meant to reduce your surgical risks and improve your body's ability to repair itself. If you smoke, cessation will be a top priority. You must strictly avoid smoking for several weeks before surgery as well as during your surgical recovery. In the weeks leading up to your procedure, you will also need to avoid products that thin the blood. If you take prescription blood thinners, talk to your ophthalmologist and the prescribing physician about recommendations prior to surgery. Over-the-counter products that have blood-thinning effects include aspirin, ibuprofen, fish oil, garlic, and ginseng, to name a few.
What Happens After Surgery to Repair Ectropion?
You will need to arrange to have a loved one drive you home after your procedure. There, you will follow your written care instructions. These outline how to care for the skin as it heals.
Your post-treatment recovery experience will depend on the type of procedure you've had done. For example, if you have a skin graft, you may need to wear a padded dressing for a day or two longer than someone who has more conservative ectropion repair. Even with the bandage, you can expect to feel quite a bit better 24 hours after surgery. When you first return home, you should rest as much as you need. The following day, you may get up and move around but must not engage in any strenuous activity. You may start resuming normal exercise approximately two weeks after your procedure. You may use over-the-counter pain relief if you're experiencing minor discomfort.
Post-operative care instructions should be easy to follow. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the office for assistance. In addition to keeping your wound dry, you may need to apply antibiotic ointment to the eye area once or twice a day. It is normal for the eye to feel scratchy and irritated, both inside and out. Some discharge is also normal, as are swelling, redness, and bruising. These side effects look worse before they begin to look better. Expect worsening for 24 to 48 hours, and then gradual dissipation. You may apply cool compresses or an ice pack to the area for about 10 minutes at a time, as often as once an hour, to help the swelling to resolve more quickly.
Schedule An Ectropion Appointment in Chesapeake
If you would like to eliminate the discomfort caused by ectropion, please call us at (757) 484-0101 or contact us online and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Our doctors are certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and have the experience required to make sure your treatment is as easy as possible. We proudly serve Chesapeake and surrounding communities.