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Learning About Ectropion

The parts of the eye

What is ectropion?

Ectropion is an eye problem in which the eyelids and eyelashes turn outward.

The bottom eyelid may droop down so you can't close your eye completely. When this happens, your eyelid may not be able to protect your eye from infections and scrapes. This drooping can also prevent your tears from draining as they should.

Ectropion is often caused by aging. As people get older, the skin can sag. The muscles that control the eyelids weaken. Ectropion may also be caused by a problem with the nerves that control the muscles in the eyelids.

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor can usually diagnose ectropion by examining your eyelid and your eye. Your doctor will check the health of the surface of the eye (cornea) and the lining of the eyelids.

What are the symptoms?

When you have ectropion, you may have a hard time closing your eye fully. You may feel eye pain. You may also feel like there is something in your eye. Your eye may feel dry. Or you may have watery eyes or tears that may run down your face.

How is ectropion treated?

At home, you can try artificial tears to relieve the symptoms and keep the surfaces of the eyes moist. You can buy artificial tears without a prescription.

To put in eyedrops or ointment:

  • Tilt your head back, and pull your lower eyelid down with one finger.
  • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
  • Close your eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops or ointment move around.
  • Do not touch the ointment or dropper tip to your eyelashes or any other surface.

If ectropion is painful or if it causes other eye problems, your doctor may talk to you about surgery. There are several surgeries that may help give you relief.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You have new or worse eye pain.
  • You have new or worse redness in your eye.
  • You have symptoms of an eye infection, such as:
    • Pus or thick discharge coming from the eye.
    • Redness or swelling around the eye.
    • A fever.
  • Light hurts your eye.
  • You have vision changes.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.