Ectropion is an eye condition in which your eyelid sags or turns outward. Find out about causes and treatment for this common eye problem.
Ectropion (ek-TROH-pee-on) is a condition in which your eyelid turns outward. This leaves the inner eyelid surface exposed and prone to irritation.
Ectropion is more common in older adults, and it generally affects only the lower eyelid. In severe ectropion, the entire length of the eyelid is turned out. In less severe ectropion, only one segment of the eyelid sags away from the eye.
Artificial tears and lubricating ointments can help relieve symptoms of ectropion. But usually surgery is needed to fully correct the condition.
In ectropion, the lower lid sags away from the eye. Because of the sagging lid, your eye can't close completely when you blink, which can cause the eye to be dry and irritated.
Normally when you blink, your eyelids distribute tears evenly across your eyes, keeping the surfaces of the eyes lubricated. These tears drain into small openings on the inner part of your eyelids (puncta).
If you have ectropion, your lower lid pulls away from your eye and tears don't drain properly into the puncta. The resulting signs and symptoms can include:
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:
These are signs and symptoms of cornea exposure or ulcers, which can harm your vision.
Ectropion can be caused by:
Factors that increase your risk of developing ectropion include:
Ectropion leaves your cornea irritated and exposed, making it more susceptible to drying. The result can be abrasions and ulcers on the cornea, which can threaten your vision.
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 each 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.
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:
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:
After surgery you will likely experience:
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.
These lifestyle tips may relieve your discomfort from ectropion:
If you have signs and symptoms of ectropion, you're likely to start by seeing your primary care doctor. He or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in treating eye disorders (ophthalmologist).
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
Before your appointment take these steps:
For ectropion, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as: