Ectropion describes the sagging and outward turning of your lower eyelid and eyelashes.
- Ectropion is when your lower eyelids sag and turn outwards. This can happen in one or both of your eyes.
- The most common reason for is ageing, but some other conditions may also cause ectropion, such as a lump, injury or burn.
- Ectropion is not usually serious but can be uncomfortable.
- Treatment ranges from eye drops to surgery.
- There are self-care steps you can take to reduce irritation in your eye when you have the condition.
What causes ectropion?
Most commonly ectropion is caused by ageing. The lower lid muscles of your eyes become weaker as you get older and turn outwards.
Other causes of ectropion include having:
- a type of facial paralysis called Bell's palsy
- a lump, cyst or tumour on your eyelid
- a burn
- had previous surgery
- a skin condition called contact dermatitis
- an injury causing damage to the skin around your eyelids.
What are the symptoms of ectropion?
Common symptoms include:
- excessive tearing
- crusting of the eyelid
- mucous discharge
- irritation of the eye
- corneal ulceration or infection.
When should I seek urgent medical help?
You should see a doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms:
- blurred vision
- loss of side vision
- seeing coloured halos
- redness of your eye
- nausea or vomiting
- pain in your eye.
How is ectropion diagnosed?
If you are concerned that you might have ectropion, it is important to see your local GP or optometrist for an eye examination. They are able to detect eye diseases and assess your symptoms. You will then be referred to an eye surgeon (ophthalmologist) for further treatment if necessary. No special tests are needed most of the time.
How is ectropion treated?
Treatment of ectropion depends on its severity. If you have dry eyes or mild cases, use an eye lubricant such as artificial tears, to keep the eyes moist. In severe cases, surgery aimed at rectifying the underlying cause is recommended.
If your eyes become increasingly red or painful, or your sight becomes blurred, see your doctor. You may need antibiotic or steroid eye drops.
The surgery for treatment of ectropion is called eyelid surgery. This may include lid-tightening procedures, punctual opening and the addition of skin. Your eye surgeon or ophthalmologist will be able to recommend the best procedure for you.
While your eyes are irritated, avoid using make-up such as eye shadow, eyeliner and other cosmetics around the eye. Also, avoid using contact lenses until the condition is under control.
Regular eye checks are important
As you get older, you should get your eyes checked regularly. Also get your eyes checked straight away if you notice any changes or you think your vision is not as clear as it used to be.
Wear sunglasses to reduce glare and UV damage.