When Your Eyelid Turns Outward

Young woman touching her faceSometimes our eyelids can turn the wrong way. This is usually due to the weakening of the controlling muscles and tendons that operate our eyelids. When the eyelid involuntarily turns outward, this is known as ectropion. When a person has ectropion, the condition prevents tears from draining from the eye correctly, resulting in irritation. 

At Central Valley Eye Medical Group, our board-certified ophthalmologists can surgically correct ectropion. 

Causes of ectropion 

The normal process of aging is the usual cause of ectropion. This can develop as the muscles, tendons, and connective tissue around the eyes become weaker. If a person has had prior trauma to the face or eyes there is a greater likelihood of developing ectropion. 

Other causes of ectropion: 

  •     Facial paralysis due to Bell’s palsy or a tumor
  •     Eyelid growths
  •     Previous eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty)
  •     Facial scarring from burns or trauma
  •     Radiation to the eyelid for a cancerous growth
  •     Excessive sun exposure
  •     Rapid weight loss
  •     Cosmetic laser/skin resurfacing
  •     Certain prescription eyedrops

Symptoms of ectropion 

The main issue with ectropion is lack of tear drainage into the small openings on the inner part of the eyelid. Without proper drainage, several symptoms can develop: 

  •     Excessive tearing
  •     Pain
  •     Eye irritation and redness
  •     Sensitivity to light
  •     Inflammation
  •     Eyes that feel gritty or dry

Beyond these symptoms, patients can have these more serious complications: corneal abrasions, corneal ulcers, and eye infections. 

Treating ectropion 

There are temporary treatments, which are basically simply to relieve pain or irritation, but surgery is the only way to correct ectropion. Our Central Valley surgeons perform a brief surgical procedure where the eyelids are repositioned. In typical cases where ectropion has developed due to muscle weakness or scars from a previous surgery, this surgery can involve the following: 

  •     Stretching of scar tissue
  •     Removal of a small section of the eyelid
  •     Skin graft to reposition the eyelid.

After surgery, the patient usually will wear an eye patch for 24 hours. There may be some bruising and swelling, but they resolve very quickly. 

If your eyelids seem to be turned outward, it’s something we should see at Central Valley Eye Medical Group. Call us at (800) 244-9907 to make your appointment.

Posted in: Eye Conditions

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