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Ectropion

Ectropion is the turning out of the eyelid so that the inner surface is exposed. It most often affects the lower eyelid.

Causes

Ectropion is very often caused by the aging process. The connective tissue of the eyelid becomes weaker, which causes the lid to turn out so that the edge of the lower lid is no longer against the eyeball. It can also be caused by:

  • A defect that occurs before birth (for example, in children with Down syndrome)
  • Facial palsy
  • Scar tissue from burns

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will make a diagnosis by doing an exam of the eyes and eyelids. Special tests are not needed most of the time.

Treatment

Artificial tears (a lubricant) may ease dryness and keep the cornea moist. Surgery to tighten the muscles that hold the eyelids in place is very often effective. It may be done as outpatient surgery using medicine to numb the area (local anesthesia).

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outcome very often good with treatment.

Possible Complications

Corneal dryness and irritation may lead to:

Corneal ulcers can threaten vision.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of ectropion.

If you have ectropion, get emergency medical help if you have:

  • Vision that is getting worse
  • Pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye redness that is getting worse quickly

Prevention

Most cases are cannot be prevented. Using artificial tears or lubricating ointments may prevent injury to the cornea.

References

Cahill KV, Doxanas MT. Eyelid abnormalities: ectropion, entropion, trichiasis. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology 2013. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:vol 5,chap 73.

Robinson FO, Richard J, Collin O. Ectropion. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier; 2013:chap 12.7.

Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 431.

Update Date: 9/2/2014

Updated by: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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