What is ectropion?
Ectropion is an eye disease characterised by a poor position of the lid edge, which causes the eyelid to turn outwards, leaving the eye surface exposed. Generally speaking, it affects only the lower eyelid and only one segment, although there are cases in which the whole eyelid is turned.
This poor position means that the eyelids do not fit properly into the blink and that, as a result, tears cannot be properly distributed on the eye surface.
If left untreated, ectropion can lead to infections, abrasions, ulcers or scars on the cornea, due to its greater exposure to the outside world. For this reason, it is important that we act as soon as possible to avoid serious complications and eye damage that may become permanent.
You may also have mucous discharge (rheum).
Do not confuse ectropion with entropion, which causes similar discomfort and occurs when the eyelid turns in the opposite direction, i.e. inward.
- Muscle weakness: most cases of ectropion are due to age-related sagging. The progressive weakening of the muscles and supporting tissues that keep the eyelid in its correct position can cause the lower eyelid to droop excessively and this malposition to appear.
- Facial paralysis: blockage of facial muscles and nerves caused by tumours, trauma or certain diseases can lead to ectropion.
- Scars in the area: scar tissue from a burn, an eye trauma or a previous surgery can result in a bad position of the eyelid, causing it to rotate outwards.
- Excess tissue: usually associated with benign tumours or cancerous processes.
- Genetic factors: some genetic disorders, such as Down’s syndrome, can cause ectropion from childhood or even from birth (congenital ectropion), although it is generally an eye pathology associated with ageing.
If you have ectropion, the use of artificial tears and eye creams will help you maintain moisture on the eye surface and avoid the problems associated with excessive dryness, relieving any discomfort.
However, the majority of cases require surgery to resolve them definitively and satisfactorily. The technique will depend on the cause that led to the ectropion: if this is due to the relaxation or drooping of the tissues, our oculoplastic surgeons seek to tighten the tendons and muscles to make the eyelid rest correctly on the eye. On the other hand, when ectropion is due to the existence of scars from previous injuries or surgeries, we may have to perform grafts with skin from other parts of the body.