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Ectropion

Alternate Names

  • eversion of the eyelid
  • outward turning of the eyelid
  • Eye

Definition

Ectropion is an outward turning, or eversion, of the eyelid margin. It may be mild or a total eversion, which exposes the mucous membrane lining underneath the lid. It usually involves the lower lid and not the upper.

What is going on in the body?

Ectropion formation may be congenital, or present at birth. Most cases of ectropion are due to aging as the muscles of the lower lid lose their tone.

Risks

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

In younger people, ectropion may occur after an injury with scarring that causes the lid margin to relax away from the eyeball. In elderly people, the condition is often caused by relaxation and stretching of the underlying muscles in the eyelid.
Other causes of ectropion include:
  • severe facial nerve palsy, or paralysis
  • burns
  • eyelid tumors
  • unrepaired fractures of the bones around the eye
  • allergies, with skin dryness and redness

Prevention

What can be done to prevent the condition?

Prevention of ectropion will depend on the underlying cause. If ectropion is caused by allergies, medications to relieve allergy symptoms may prevent ectropion. In some cases, ectropion cannot be prevented, such as ectropion due to aging or trauma.

Diagnosed

How is the condition diagnosed?

Ectropion is usually diagnosed by the symptoms. The healthcare professional will also examine the eye and evaluate any sagging of the eyelid or lack of lubrication.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

If not treated, an ectropion results in drying of the eye with irritation and permanent redness. Other long-term effects will depend on the cause of the ectropion.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

Ectropion is not contagious and poses no risk to others.

Treatments

What are the treatments for the condition?

Treatment of ectropion consists of lubricating drops and ointments to protect the eye from exposure. Antibiotics and warm compresses may also help relieve the symptoms. The best management for this condition, however, is usually a surgical procedure to remove the excess tissue from the lid margin.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Side effects to treatment will depend on the treatment used. Lubricating drops may cause mild eye irritation. Surgery can be complicated by infection, bleeding, eye damage, or reactions to the anesthesia.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the condition?

If treatment of ectropion is successful, no further treatment is necessary.

Monitor

How is the condition monitored?

Surgery generally corrects the problem, but any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional.

Sources

Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, David E. Larson, 1996

Taber's Medical Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, Davis, 1993

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