What is a lower lid ectropion?

A lower lid ectropion is a condition where the lower eyelid turns outwards and away from the surface of the eye. It’s not usually painful, but it can make the eye look red and is often associated with watery eye. Patients with an ectropion also find that the eye can be slightly sticky when they wake up in the morning.

What causes a lower lid ectropion?

A lower lid ectropion can occur for a variety of reasons, and we can identify this in your own case and make a plan to correct it. The most common cause is age-related stretching of the eyelid tissues; this leads the eyelid to turn outwards, but corrective surgery in this situation is often very successful. In some cases, the skin of the eyelids becomes too tight, which can pull the eyelid away from the surface of the eye. If this happens to be the case, it will need to be corrected at the time of surgery. I can discuss the details of the potential surgery with you once I have completed my initial assessment.

How does a lower lid ectropion correction work?

The surgery is usually performed under local anaesthetic, though it can also be carried out under a general anaesthetic if requested. If the problem is bilateral (ie in both eyes), both eyelids can be fixed at the same time. After an injection of local anaesthetic, we make an incision either on the inside of the eyelid and / or the outer corner of the eyelid. This allows us to gently reposition the stretched tissues, before closing the wound. We can remove your sutures after a week. The lower lid may remain swollen for a few weeks. For more details about your recovery after the procedure, please see our post-operative advice.

What are the risks of ectropion surgery?

As with any form of surgery, there are potential risks involved in ectropion surgery – although serious complications are very rare. The risks include:

  • infection: this is very rare around the eyelids
  • bruising and swelling: this is very common after eyelid surgery but usually settles after a week
  • scarring: the scar forms along the natural skin crease of the eyelid and heals very well
  • under- or over-correction: the final position of the eyelid is carefully measured during surgery, but occasionally the final position after the lid has healed may not be quite right. If this happens, further surgery is sometimes required to readjust the eyelid position
  • reduced vision: any operation performed on the eyelids could potentially cause damage to your eyesight; fortunately, the risk of this happening is extremely rare.

For more information on ectropion please visit the BOPSS website.

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