Our eyelids are truly remarkable structures; they help protect the eye from the environment and brush away dirt and other harmful particles. Healthy eyelids also help the ocular surface in maintaining visual clarity. In fact, they’re so crucial to our vision that even a slight structural change to the eyelids could have serious consequences. For instance, if your eyelids begin to turn out (ectropion), or flip inward (entropion), you could develop a variety of short-term and long-term problems. Think you have ectropion or entropion? Use our easy, helpful guide to learn about both conditions and how they can be treated.
Ectropion is a condition where the outer eyelids turn outward, exposing the inner eyelid to the environment. Ectropion is more common in older people, and it can vary in severity from patient to patient. With ectropion, the cartilage plate (a structure in the eyelids that supports its form) in the lower eyelid becomes so floppy that the lid turns outward. The result is that the inner eyelid’s mucous membrane (which used to be pressed against the eye and bathed in tears) is exposed to the environment, eventually causing the lids to become inflamed and irritated.
Tears also need to drain properly into a small opening in the lower lid, and if the lower lid is somewhat floppy and pulled away from the eye, the tears become backed up.
Ectropion can cause symptoms like:
- Excessive dryness
- Watery eyes
- Light sensitivity
While artificial tears and hydrating ointments might alleviate some of the symptoms of ectropion, the best way to treat ectropion is through surgery. An ophthalmologist can tighten the lower lid to make sure it’s no longer turned out—either by re-sectioning a small amount of tissue, reducing horizontal lid laxity, or both.
Most entropion is age-related and happens less often in younger patients (although injuries, infections, and congenital defects might also be responsible.) With entropion, the eyelids flip inwards causing the eyelashes to rub against the eye. Entropion occurs due to a combination of horizontal lid laxity and the weakening of the ligaments holding the cartilaginous plate.
Entropion can cause symptoms like:
- Irritation of the surface of the eye
- Watery eyes
- Loss of clear vision
Surgery to treat entropion will typically involve horizontally tightening the tissues on the lower eyelids and tightening the vertical attachments to the cartilaginous plate. This strengthens the structure of the lower eyelid and prevents it from drooping further.
When it comes to your lower eye surgery, you should choose a surgeon with extensive experience working with the eye’s anatomy. In other words, you should opt for nothing less than an experienced ophthalmologist like Dr. Robert Beldavs. To schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Beldavs by calling 204-944-1628.