The primary function of the eyelid is to protect the eyeball by keeping it lubricated and by screening out and clearing away small foreign bodies. Aging, injury, infection, scars, certain tumors, and congenital anomalies can interfere with the eyelid’s ability to perform its function, leaving the cornea (the front part of the eye) and conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that protects the eye) vulnerable to injury and infection.
Entropion (pronounced en-‘trO-pE-“Šn) Repair
When the lower eyelid and eyelashes turn inward, lashes can rub against the cornea and conjunctiva causing irritation. Excessive tearing, a foreign-body sensation, crusting of the eyelid, mucus discharge, impaired vision, infection, and corneal scarring can result. It is important to have this condition repaired before permanent damage occurs to the eyeball. In the meantime, tape or sutures can be used to temporarily reposition the eyelid. Lubricating drops and medications can control inflammation and infection. Depending upon the cause and severity, there are a number of surgical techniques for successfully managing entropion, including tightening of the eyelid. Occasionally, a scar excision and/or tissue graft may be necessary.
Ectropion (pronounced ek-‘trO-pE-“Šn) Repair
When an eyelid turns out away from the eye, the conjunctiva may become exposed. The eyelid is no longer able to properly spread the tear film across the eye and the drainage of tears through the nasolacrimal (tear drainage) system may be interrupted. The exposed lining of the eyelid becomes dry and inflamed, eventually damaged. Artificial tears and lubricating ointments may be used to keep the cornea moist. A protective shield may be worn at night to keep moisture in the eye. If the ectropion is due to laxity of the eyelid’s supporting structure, surgery can reposition the eyelid against the eye. Sometimes, a skin graft may be necessary, especially in cases of trauma or scarring of the skin.
Entropion and Ectropion Repair surgery is usually performed in an outpatient surgical facility under a local anesthetic and monitored sedation.