Entropion (en-TROH-pee-on) is a condition in which your eyelid turns inward so that your eyelashes and skin rub against the eye surface. This causes irritation and discomfort.
When you have entropion, your eyelid may be turned in all the time or only when you blink hard or squeeze your eyelids shut. Entropion is more common in older adults, and it generally affects only the lower eyelid.
Artificial tears and lubricating ointments can help relieve symptoms of entropion. But usually surgery is needed to fully correct the condition. Left untreated, entropion can cause damage to the transparent covering in the front part of your eye (cornea), eye infections and vision loss.
The signs and symptoms of entropion result from the friction of your eyelashes and outer eyelid against the surface of your eye. You may experience:
Seek immediate care if you have received a diagnosis of entropion and you experience:
These are signs and symptoms of cornea injury, which can harm your vision.
Make an appointment to see your doctor if you feel like you constantly have something in your eye or you notice that some of your eyelashes seem to be turning in toward your eye. If you leave entropion untreated for too long, it can cause permanent damage to your eye. Start using artificial tears and eye-lubricating ointments to protect your eye before your appointment.
Entropion can be caused by:
Factors that increase your risk of developing entropion include:
Corneal irritation and injury are the most serious complications related to entropion because they can lead to permanent vision loss.
Generally, entropion isn't preventable. You may be able to prevent the type caused by trachoma infection. If your eyes become red and irritated after you visit an area where trachoma infection is common, seek evaluation and treatment immediately.
Entropion can usually be diagnosed with a routine eye exam and physical. Your doctor may pull on your eyelids during the exam or ask you to blink or close your eyes forcefully. This helps him or her assess your eyelid's position on the eye, its muscle tone and its tightness.
If your entropion is caused by scar tissue, previous surgery or other conditions, your doctor will examine the surrounding tissue as well.
The treatment approach depends on what's causing your entropion. Nonsurgical treatments are available to relieve symptoms and protect your eye from damage.
When active inflammation or infection causes entropion (spastic entropion), your eyelid may return to its normal alignment as you treat the inflamed or infected eye. But if tissue scarring has occurred, entropion may persist even after the other condition has been treated.
Surgery is generally required to fully correct entropion, but short-term fixes can be useful if you can't tolerate surgery or you have to delay it.
Stitches that turn the eyelid outward. This procedure can be done in your doctor's office with local anesthesia. After numbing the eyelid, your doctor places several stitches in specific locations along the affected eyelid.
The stitches turn the eyelid outward, and resulting scar tissue keeps it in position even after the stitches are removed. After several months, your eyelid may turn itself back inward. So this technique isn't a long-term solution.
The type of surgery you have depends on the condition of the tissue surrounding your eyelid and on the cause of your entropion.
If your entropion is age related, your surgeon will likely remove a small part of your lower eyelid. This helps tighten the affected tendons and muscles. You'll have a few stitches on the outside corner of your eye or just below your lower eyelid.
If you have scar tissue on the inside of your lid or have had trauma or previous surgeries, your surgeon may perform a mucous membrane graft using tissue from the roof of your mouth or nasal passages.
Before surgery you'll receive a local anesthetic to numb your eyelid and the area around it. You may be lightly sedated to make you more comfortable, depending on the type of procedure you're having and whether it's done in an outpatient surgical clinic.
After surgery you might need to:
After surgery you will likely experience:
Your eyelid might feel tight after surgery. But as you heal, it will become more comfortable. Stitches are usually removed about a week after surgery. You can expect the swelling and bruising to fade in about two weeks.
To relieve the symptoms of entropion until you have surgery, you can try:
If you have signs and symptoms of entropion, you're likely to start by seeing your primary care doctor. He or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in treating eye disorders (ophthalmologist).
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
Before your appointment, make a list of:
For entropion, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
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