Ectropion is the turning out of the eyelid (usually the lower eyelid) so that the inner surface is exposed.
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
A physical examination of the eyes and eyelids confirms the diagnosis. Special tests are usually not necessary.
The outcome is expected to be good with treatment.
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
- Light sensitivity
- Rapidly increasing redness
Corneal dryness and irritation may lead to:
Corneal ulcers can threaten vision.
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.
Most cases are not preventable. Using artificial tears or lubricating ointments may prevent corneal complications.
Robinson FO, Collin JRO. Ectropion. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, Augsburger JJ, et al, eds. Opthalmology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2004:chap 88.
Wirbelauer C. Management of the red eye for the primary care physician. Am J Med. 2006;119:302-306.
Review Date: 11/10/2008
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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