5 Things Seniors Need To Know About Ectropion


Ectropion is an eye condition in which your eyelid turns outwards and exposes the delicate inner surface of your eyelid. This condition is particularly common among older adults. Here are five things seniors need to know about ectropion.

What are the signs of ectropion?

If you have ectropion, your eyes may feel dry or sandy. You may also have watery eyes or tears running down your face. This happens because your eyelids are supposed to spread tears across the surface of your eyes, but if your eyelids are turned outwards, they can't do this as well. This allows tears to leave your eyes without moistening the tissues.

What causes ectropion?

As you get older, your skin loses elasticity and your muscles get weaker. When this happens to your eyelids, they sag, and they may sag outwards away from your eyes. This leads to ectropion. It can also happen if you've had a stroke or another condition that has paralyzed part of your face and allowed your eyelid to droop. Previous eye surgeries, like cosmetic surgeries to correct sagging eyelids, can also lead to ectropion. Your optometrist will be able to tell you what caused your condition after examining your eyelids and taking a patient history.

Can ectropion damage your vision?

The dryness associated with ectropion can damage your vision. This happens when your cornea, the lens that covers your pupil and iris, gets dry and irritated. This irritation can lead to problems like scratches or even ulcers. Scratches and ulcers can leave behind scar tissue after they heal, and this scar tissue can block light from passing through your cornea. This leads to distorted vision or vision loss.

How common is ectropion?

Ectropion is a fairly common eye condition among seniors in developed countries. A Brazilian study found that 2.9% of elderly people suffer from lower eyelid ectropion. An Australian study found that it affected 0.3% of people younger than 60, 1.2% of people in their sixties, 6.7% of people in their seventies, and 16.7% of people who were eighty or older. It can also affect younger people, but this isn't as common.

Can optometrists treat ectropion?

Your optometrist may recommend using artificial tears to keep your cornea moist and safe from dangers like abrasions and ulcers. Surgical treatment is also possible. If you get this done, the muscles and skin of your eyelid will be tightened to hold it in its proper place. You may be referred to an eye surgeon or a plastic surgeon to get this done.

Ectropion is an uncomfortable cosmetic problem that has the potential to damage your vision, so if you think you have it, seek treatment from an optometrist right away. 

To speak to a professional about this condition, contact a doctor such as Dr. Diane Trevis.


3 August 2015

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