Ectropion is the medical term for an outward-turned eyelid. Often occurring in older adults, the lower eyelid sags away from the eye, exposing the inner portion of the eyelid and interrupting the natural flow of tears in the eyes. Without proper drainage of tears and lubrication on your eyes, you can start to experience discomfort, such as excessive eye watering, a gritty sensation, burning, redness and light sensitivity. Without protection from the lower eyelid, the cornea (the outer layer of your eye) also becomes more exposed, which can lead to corneal abrasions, corneal ulcers and ultimately vision problems.
Ectropion is often the result of eye muscles weakening over time or facial paralysis, but it can also be caused by scarring due to disease, trauma, growths, etc. Sometimes artificial tears and lubricating ointments can provide temporary relief. Surgical treatment can help restore your lower eyelid function and provide lasting relief for your discomfort. This procedure can be expertly performed by Dr. Valerie H. Chen, our board-certified ophthalmologist and ophthalmic plastic surgeon.
Prior to your procedure, your eyelid will be numbed with a local anesthetic. If you are feeling anxious, we may prescribe a light sedative to help you relax. The actual treatment will vary, depending on the root cause of your condition:
It will be helpful for Dr. Chen to know what your eyelids looked like before you experienced ectropion. If possible, bring in the most recent photograph of yourself when your eyelids were tight. That will give Dr. Chen an idea of what goals you might want to achieve with your appearance. Here are some general tips to promote a successful procedure:
You will be provided detailed pre-operative instructions in writing by Dr. Chen and her team prior to your procedure.
After surgery, expect to experience bruising, swelling and general tightness as your eye heals. A cold compress will help alleviate your discomfort during the first week, then use a warm compress. Dr. Chen will also prescribe antibiotic and steroid ointments to protect your eye from infection. It may take 2 weeks for the side effects to subside, so be patient and rest to promote a speedy recovery. Typically, dissolvable sutures are used so there is no need to return to have stitches removed.
Dr. Chen and her team will provide you with detailed post-operative instructions in writing.
With the lower eyelid back into normal position, you will be able to live life with more eye comfort and a natural function.