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Ectropion

Ectropion is the turning out of the eyelid (usually the lower eyelid) so that the inner surface is exposed.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Ectropion is usually caused by the aging process and the weakening of the connective tissue of the eyelid, which causes the lid to turn out. It can also be caused by:

  • A defect that occurs before birth (for example, in children with Down syndrome)
  • Scar tissue from burns

Symptoms

Signs and tests

A physical examination of the eyes and eyelids confirms the diagnosis. Special tests are usually not necessary.

Treatment

Artificial tears (a lubricant) may relieve dryness and keep the cornea lubricated. Surgery to tighten the muscles that hold the eyelids in place is usually effective. It may be performed as outpatient surgery with local anesthesia.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome is expected to be good with treatment.

Complications

Corneal dryness and irritation may lead to:

Corneal ulcers can threaten vision.

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of ectropion.

If you have ectropion, get medical attention if you experience the following emergency symptoms:

  • Decreasing vision
  • Pain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Rapidly increasing redness

Prevention

Most cases are not preventable. Using artificial tears or lubricating ointments may prevent corneal complications.

References

Robinson FO, Collin JRO. Ectropion. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 12.7.

Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 431.

Updated: 8/14/2012

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


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