Ectropion – Lower Eyelid Turning Out

Ectropion is the medical term used to describe sagging and outward turning of the lower eyelid and eyelashes. The sagging lower eyelid falls away from the surface of the eye and leaves the eye dry and exposed.

What are the causes of ectropion?

Ectropion is most commonly caused by weakening and stretching of the tendons that anchor the lower eyelid on either side of the eye. Other causes of ectropion are facial nerve paralysis (such as Bell’s palsy or a stroke), eyelid burns, skin cancers, and previous eyelid surgery.

What are the symptoms of ectropion?

The normal surface of the eye consists of a thin membrane, the conjunctiva. This membrane secretes the tear film keeping the eye lubricated. Normally, the upper and lower eyelids close tightly, protecting the eye from damage and preventing tear evaporation. If the edge of the lower eyelid turns outward, the two eyelids cannot meet properly and tears are not spread evenly over the eye. Symptoms may include excessive tearing, chronic irritation, redness, pain, a gritty feeling, crusting of the eyelid and mucous discharge.

How is an ectropion treated?

Irritation caused by an ectropion can be temporarily relieved using artificial tears, gels, and ointments to keep the surface of the eye and inside surface of the eyelid well lubricated. However, definitive treatment of an ectropion is surgical repair. Surgery consists of reattaching the loose tendon, thereby tightening the eyelid back to the surface of the eye. If the ectropion is caused by previous removal of a skin cancer, trauma, or burn, a more complex reconstruction of the eyelid in combination with other procedures may be required.

Entropion – Lower Eyelid Turning In

Entropion is the condition in which the lower eyelid is rolled inward toward the eye. A turned in eyelid rubs against the eye, making it red, irritated, painful, and sensitive to light and wind. If it is not treated the condition can lead to excessive tearing, mucous discharge and scratching or scarring of the cornea, the clear portion of the eye. A chronically turned in eyelid may lead to eye infections and corneal abrasions. If an entropion occurs, it should be surgically repaired to prevent permanent damage to the eye and to alleviate symptoms.

What are the causes of entropion?

Entropion is most commonly caused by weakening of the tendons that anchor the lower eyelid on either side of the eye. Entropion occurs when the protective plate in the eyelid (the tarsus) swings inward rotating the margin of the eyelid and the eyelashes onto the surface of the eye. Entropion can also result from scarring of the inner surface of the eyelid caused by burns, inflammatory conditions, severe allergies, and long term use of topical medications.

How is an entropion treated?

Treatment of entropion is surgical. Entropion surgery consists of tightening the loose tendon, and stabilizing the muscle that rotates the eyelashes onto the eye. A non-incisional entropion repair is performed as an in-office procedure if the patient is not suitable for surgery, or to alleviate severe symptoms until more definitive surgery can be performed. If the entropion is caused by a previous burn or inflammatory condition, more extensive reconstruction of the eyelid may be required.

How is lower eyelid surgery performed?

Dr. Lissauer performs lower eyelid surgery as an outpatient procedure at The Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital in New York, with local sedation administered by an anesthesiologist. The patient is awake but relaxed and the procedure is painless. Generally the procedure is about an hour to two hours.

What should I expect after lower eyelid surgery?

Sutures are usually removed six days after surgery and most patients are able to resume normal activities within one week and are usually able to return back to work in seven to ten days.  Light exercise can usually be resumed within seven days and full exercise within two weeks.   Patients might notice some tightness on the outer corners of the eyelids for four to six weeks after surgery.

If you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lissauer regarding lower eyelid surgery, please contact our New York office at: 212-717-2150 for an appointment.