Entropion is the turning inward of the eyelid causing the eyelashes to rub against the eyeball. This condition can cause irritation and pain in the eye. Entropion could be caused by aging – which allows the eyelid muscles and tendons to become lax.
Entropion typically occurs on the lower eyelid. It could also be caused by scarring of the inside of the eyelid caused by trauma or a previous infection. Surgical correction involves tightening of the lower ey elid and reattaching the lower eyelid muscles. In order to fully understand this condition and how it is treated, think of the lower eyelid as a tennis net that is too loose and falls inward.
If the problem were due to scarring from a previous trauma or infection, then the scarring would need to be addressed by grafts to vertically lengthen the scarred shortened lower eyelid.
Symptoms of Entropion
The signs and symptoms of an entropion usually develop slowly, starting out as only mild eye irritation. As the eyelid continues to turn inward, the constant friction of your eyelashes rubbing against the cornea can lead to the following symptoms:
- Feeling as if there is something in your eye
- Eye pain and irritation
- Excessive tearing (watery eyes)
- Eye redness
- Eyelid crusting and mucous discharge
- Decrease in visual acuity
What Causes Entropion?
- Muscle weakness–As we get older, the muscles under our eyes become weaker and there is increased laxity of the tendons. This is one of the primary causes of an entropion.
- Previous surgeries and injuries–Scarring caused by trauma, burns or surgery distort the normal curvature of the eyelid.
- Eye infections–In many developing countries, trachoma causes scarring of the inner eyelid, which can lead to an entropion.
- Chronic inflammation–Those who suffer from dry eyes are more likely to develop an entropion. In an attempt to alleviate the irritation, you might find yourself rubbing your eyes or squeezing them shut. Known as a spastic entropion, it causes the eyelid to roll inward.
When to Seek Medical Treatment
You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Excessive tearing with redness
- Continual eye pain
- Sensitivity to light
- Decreased vision
Treatment for entropion repair
The most common method of treatment is surgical correction. If not corrected through reconstructive surgery, entropion could cause mucus discharge and significant corneal damage. The procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia, although some patients may prefer intravenous sedation. Ointments and eye drops must be applied following surgery. Patients who undergo entropion repair may resume activities shortly after surgery as the recovery period is short. Alternatively, non-surgical treatments such as Botox provide temporary relief.
While Botox injections have been found effective in the treatment of mild entropions, in most cases, surgery is necessary in order to tighten the muscles around the eyelid. This can be performed in the doctor's office under local anesthesia. After surgery, your doctor will instruct you regarding proper postoperative care.