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Alternative Names
eversion of the eyelid, outward turning of the eyelid

Ectropion is an outward turning, or eversion, of the eyelid margin. It may be mild or a total eversion, which exposes the mucous membrane lining underneath the lid. It usually involves the lower lid and not the upper.

What is going on in the body?
Ectropion formation may be congenital (present at birth). Ectropion may also develop following changes in the tone of eye muscles, or the skin around the eye.

What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?
The symptoms of ectropion include:
  • chronic tearing of the eye
  • redness of the lid margin
  • eye puffiness
  • dryness of the eye
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
In younger people, ectropion may occur after an injury with scarring that causes the lid margin to relax away from the eyeball. In elderly people, the condition is often caused by relaxation and stretching of the underlying muscles in the eyelid.

Other causes of ectropion include:
  • severe facial nerve palsy, or paralysis
  • burns
  • eyelid tumours
  • unrepaired fractures of the bones around the eye
  • allergies, with skin dryness and redness
What can be done to prevent the condition?
Prevention of ectropion will depend on the underlying cause. If ectropion is caused by allergies, medications to relieve allergy symptoms may prevent ectropion. In some cases, ectropion cannot be prevented, such as ectropion due to ageing or trauma.

How is the condition diagnosed?
Ectropion is usually diagnosed by the symptoms. The doctor will also examine the eye and evaluate any sagging of the eyelid or lack of lubrication.

What are the long-term effects of the condition?
If not treated, an ectropion results in drying of the eye with irritation and permanent redness. Other long-term effects will depend on the cause of the ectropion.

What are the risks to others?
Ectropion is not contagious and poses no risk to others.

What are the treatments for the condition?
Treatment of ectropion consists of lubricating drops and ointments to protect the eye from exposure. Antibiotics and warm compresses may also help relieve the symptoms. The best management for this condition, however, is usually a surgical procedure to remove the excess tissue from the lid margin.

What are the side effects of the treatments?
Side effects to treatment will depend on the treatment used. Lubricating drops may cause mild eye irritation. Surgery poses a risk of infection, bleeding, eye damage, and allergic reaction to the anaesthesia.

What happens after treatment for the condition?
If treatment of ectropion is successful, no further treatment is necessary.

How is the condition monitored?
Surgery generally corrects the problem, but any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the doctor.

Author: William Stevens, MD
Reviewer: HealthAnswers Australia Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr David Taylor, Chief Medical Officer HealthAnswers Australia
Last Updated: 1/10/2001
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


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