Picture taken from asoprs.org

What is an Ectropion?

An ectropion, also known as an out-turned eyelid, is a condition where the eyelid rolls outward or pulls downward. This is most commonly caused by tissue relaxation via aging, but can also be due to trauma, scarring, previous surgery, paralysis, or nerve damage.

Ectropion is a condition that, if left untreated, will get worse over time. This is due to the wet surface of the eyeball being exposed to the elements. The normal function of the upper and lower eyelids is to close together tightly, which protects the eye and prevents tears from escaping it. However, if one eyelid turns outward or pulls downward, the eyelids will not be able to close properly. This leads to tear evaporation and damage to the eye.

What is the Treatment for an Ectropion Like?

The treatment for an ectropion varies according to the condition that the eye is currently in. If the condition is not serious, irritation and dryness can be relieved with artificial tears and/or ointments that work to lubricate the eye.

If the conditions are further along, surgery will be necessary. The type of surgery needed for ectropion depends on the cause of the condition. For ectropion that is caused by aging, your surgeon may elect to shorten and tighten the lower eyelid. Another surgical method used to fix an ectropion is a skin graft. Your surgeon may use a skin graft taken from the upper eyelid or behind the ear to fix your condition.

Surgery to treat ectropion can usually be performed in an outpatient setting with local anesthesia. After surgery, you will generally use an antibiotic ointment for approximately a week. Generally, patients will experience an immediate resolution of the problem after surgery is completed.

When Should I Consider Undergoing Treatment for an Ectropion?

The eyelids normally protect the eyeball from air and debris. However, when the eyelid is pulled outward or downward, the eye is exposed to air and becomes dry. Corneal dryness and damage/irritation can lead to more serious conditions such as eye infections, corneal abrasions, and/or corneal ulcers. You should consider undergoing treatment for an ectropion if:

  • Your eyes are constantly red
  • Your eyelid is visibly turned outwards
  • You experience eye irritation on a daily basis
  • You experience eye pain consistently
  • Mucous is being discharged from your eye(s)
  • You have tearing or watering eyes on a consistent basis
  • You experience blurry vision daily

If you experience any of these aforementioned issues, consider contacting us for a consultation with one of our board-certified oculofacial plastic surgeons.

For more information on post-operative care, click here.

For before and after pictures of our ectropion repair procedure, click here.