Imagine waking up one morning with a persistent eye irritation, redness, and excessive tearing. You might think it’s just a minor annoyance that will go away on its own, but what if it’s a sign of something more serious? Ectropion, a condition where the lower eyelid turns outward, could be the underlying cause. It’s essential to understand ectropion, its types, diagnosis, treatment options, and prevention to ensure the health and well-being of your eyes.

In this blog post, we will delve into the world of ectropion, exploring the different types of this eyelid disorder and the various treatment options available. We will also discuss the importance of early diagnosis and how to prevent the development of ectropion. By the end of this post, you’ll be well-equipped with the knowledge to make informed decisions about your eye health and take proactive steps to ensure your comfort and well-being.

So, are you ready to learn about ectropion and take control of your eye health? Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Ectropion is an eyelid malposition that can be caused by age-related laxity, scarring or skin tightness, and facial nerve damage.
  • Diagnosis requires a comprehensive eye exam with potential signs warranting consultation with an ophthalmologist for early treatment.
  • Treatment options include lubricating eye drops, taping the eyelids, hyaluronic acid filler injections and surgery to address underlying causes and restore normal function of the eyelid.

Understanding Ectropion

A close-up of an upper eyelid with the eyelid margin visible

Ectropion is a medical condition characterized by the outward turning of the lower eyelid margin, resulting in irritation, dryness, and redness. This eyelid malposition can be classified into three main types: involutional, cicatricial, and paralytic ectropion, all of which are examples of eyelid disorders.

Each type presents unique causes and potential complications, hence the need to comprehend their differences and implications.

Involutional Ectropion

Involutional ectropion occurs due to age-related lower eyelid laxity, which can result from progressive muscle weakness, particularly in the orbicularis oculi muscle. As we age, the eyelid muscles and tendons responsible for keeping our eyelids in their normal position weaken, causing the lower eyelid to turn outward. This leads to symptoms such as:

  • Corneal and conjunctival exposure
  • Irritation
  • Inflammation
  • Profuse tearing
  • Eye rubbing

The most common surgical approach for involutional ectropion involves addressing the underlying causes, such as muscle and tendon laxity, including the levator muscle. This is typically achieved through a tarsal strip procedure, which shortens and reattaches the tendons, providing support and correcting the ectropion. Addressing the root cause of involutional ectropion can bring significant symptom relief and improved eyelid function for patients.

Cicatricial Ectropion

An image showing the condition of ectropion in the eye with visible sagging and outward turning of the eyelid.

Cicatricial ectropion, on the other hand, is caused by scarring or skin tightness from trauma, surgery, or skin conditions, which pulls the eyelid outward and causes discomfort and exposure of the eye. The tightness of the skin can restrict the eyelid’s normal movement, leading to various uncomfortable symptoms, such as tearing, ocular discomfort, and redness.

To treat cicatricial ectropion, surgical intervention is often necessary. Full-thickness skin grafting is preferred, using skin from the upper eyelid for upper lid grafts and skin from the retroauricular region for lower eyelid and medial canthal grafts. Substituting the scarred or tight skin with healthy, flexible skin allows the eyelid to regain its normal position and function, relieving the associated discomfort and exposure.

Paralytic Ectropion

Paralytic ectropion is a result of facial nerve damage or paralysis, leading to the loss of control of the eyelid muscles and, subsequently, ectropion. Facial nerve damage can occur due to various causes, such as Bell’s palsy, trauma, or surgery, and can lead to an inability to close the upper eyelid or diminished muscle tension in the lower eyelid.

Conservative treatment for paralytic ectropion should focus on protecting the globe, including lubrication and physical procedures such as taping and scleral shells or eye bubbles. In cases where recovery is not expected or is not expected to be quick, surgical repair is recommended, such as the lateral tarsal strip procedure.

Addressing the underlying facial nerve damage or facial nerve paralysis can lead to improved eyelid function and symptom relief for patients suffering from paralytic ectropion.

Diagnosing Ectropion

A person looking into a microscope to diagnose ectropion

Identifying ectropion and its underlying cause necessitates a comprehensive eye exam. This evaluation should include a thorough examination of the eyelid structure and function and an assessment of the patient’s medical and surgical history. By understanding the patient’s symptoms, medical history, and the eye exam results, a healthcare professional can determine the presence and cause of ectropion, allowing for appropriate treatment options to be considered.

Experiencing signs of ectropion, such as:

  • excessive tearing
  • ocular discomfort
  • redness
  • foreign body sensation

Warrants consultation with an ophthalmologist. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help prevent complications and improve overall eye health and comfort.

Complications of Ectropion

A person with ectropion showing the complications of the condition

If left untreated, ectropion can lead to several complications that can negatively impact eye health and vision. One of the primary concerns is corneal damage, as the misaligned eyelid can cause:

  • Chronic irritation
  • Exposure of the cornea
  • Abrasions
  • Ulcerations
  • Permanent vision loss

Eye infections are another potential complication of ectropion, as the constant irritation and exposure of the eye can create an environment conducive to bacterial growth and inflammation. Additionally, untreated ectropion can cause vision problems due to the constant irritation and exposure of the eye, making it difficult to focus and see clearly.

Prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment for ectropion are crucial to avoiding these complications. Addressing the root cause, be it age-related laxity, scarring, or facial nerve damage, can relieve patients of their symptoms and prevent potential long-term eye damage.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

A person using eye drops to treat ectropion

In mild cases of ectropion, non-surgical treatments may be sufficient to manage symptoms and provide temporary relief. Lubricating eye drops, ointments, and taping the eyelid can help alleviate discomfort and protect the eye from further irritation and exposure.

In some cases, hyaluronic acid filler injections may be employed to augment the anterior lamella of the skin, providing additional support to the eyelid and potentially improving symptoms. While these non-surgical treatments can offer temporary relief, more severe cases of ectropion might require surgical intervention to fully correct the issue.

Surgical Treatments for Ectropion

A doctor performing a lateral tarsal strip procedure

Depending on the cause and severity of ectropion, various surgical options can be considered to correct the lower eyelid malposition. These include the lateral tarsal strip procedure, wedge resection, and skin grafting, each designed to address the specific underlying cause of the ectropion and restore the eyelid to its normal position and function.

Lateral Tarsal Strip Procedure

The lateral tarsal strip procedure is a surgical technique that tightens the lower eyelid by shortening and reattaching the tendons, providing support and correcting the ectropion. This surgery involves:

  1. Making an incision in the lateral canthus
  2. Transection of the lateral canthal tendon
  3. Creating a tarsal strip from the posterior lamella
  4. Suturing the tarsal strip to the periosteum of the lateral orbital wall

This procedure is particularly effective for involutional ectropion, as it addresses the age-related laxity of the eyelid muscle and tendons. Providing support and correction to the lower eyelid via the lateral tarsal strip procedure can significantly improve patient comfort and eyelid function.

Postoperative care and recovery for the lateral tarsal strip procedure involve applying cold compresses to reduce swelling, abstaining from strenuous activities, and attending follow-up appointments with the doctor. Adhering to these guidelines can facilitate a successful recovery for patients, allowing them to enjoy the benefits of a corrected eyelid position.

Wedge Resection

Another surgical option for ectropion is the wedge resection, which involves removing a small, wedge-shaped portion of the eyelid to tighten the affected area and reposition the eyelid. This procedure is particularly useful for cases of ectropion where the eyelid is drooping and the eyelashes are turned outward, as well as for entropion, where the eyelid is turned inward. Eyelid retraction can also be addressed through this surgical approach.

The wedge resection procedure entails:

  1. Making an incision in the affected region of the eyelid
  2. Excising a small wedge-shaped section of tissue
  3. Stitching together the adjacent edges of the eyelid to reposition it

This procedure provides relief from the associated discomfort and exposure.

Postoperative care and recovery following a wedge resection should include keeping the eye clean and free of debris, abstaining from strenuous activities, and administering lubricating eye drops to maintain moisture in the eye. By adhering to these guidelines, patients can experience a smooth recovery and improved eyelid function.

Skin Grafting

In cases of cicatricial ectropion, where scarring or tight skin is causing the eyelid malposition, skin grafting can be a useful surgical option. This procedure involves:

  1. Removing a healthy piece of skin from another area of the body
  2. Transplanting the skin graft to the affected area
  3. Securing the graft with sutures
  4. Covering the area with a dressing.

Substituting the scarred or tight skin with healthy, flexible skin allows the eyelid to regain its normal position and function, relieving the associated discomfort and exposure. Skin grafting can be particularly beneficial for patients who have experienced skin damage or loss due to trauma, surgery, or skin conditions, as it can help restore soft tissues.

Postoperative care and recovery after skin grafting involve proper wound care, eye protection, and follow-up appointments with the doctor. Following these guidelines can aid patients in a successful recovery, enabling them to enjoy the benefits of their corrected eyelid position.

Postoperative Care and Recovery

A person recovering from a surgical procedure for ectropion

Following surgery for ectropion, patients may experience temporary swelling, bruising, and discomfort. Proper wound care is essential during the recovery process to ensure successful healing and prevent infection. This includes keeping the surgical site clean, applying any prescribed antibiotic ointments, and following all postoperative instructions provided by the doctor.

In addition to wound care, there are a few important steps to take during the recovery period to ensure proper healing and prevent further damage to the eye:

  1. Wear a protective eye shield or glasses to protect the eye from any accidental bumps or injuries.
  2. Avoid direct sunlight or harsh winds, as they irritate the eye and slow the healing process.
  3. Attend all follow-up appointments with the doctor to track the healing progress and ensure the surgery succeeded.

Taking these precautions will help promote a smooth and successful recovery after eye surgery.

Following proper postoperative care and recovery guidelines can minimize the risk of complications, promote successful healing, and allow patients to enjoy the benefits of their corrected eyelid position.

Preventing Ectropion

A person taking preventive measures to avoid ectropion

While it may not be possible to prevent all cases of ectropion, early diagnosis and treatment of underlying causes, such as skin conditions or facial nerve damage, can help in preventing the development of this eyelid disorder. Additionally, taking care of your eyes by using artificial tears or lubricating ointments can help alleviate symptoms and prevent injury to the cornea.

Additionally, maintaining proper eyelid hygiene and refraining from distorting or pulling down the lower eyelid when instilling eye drops or wiping tears is important. By taking these preventive measures and seeking prompt medical attention if symptoms of ectropion arise or if your eyelid droops, you can help protect your eyes and maintain your overall eye health.

When to Consult an Ophthalmologist

A person consulting an ophthalmologist

Experiencing symptoms of ectropion, such as persistent eye irritation, redness, or tearing, necessitates consultation with an ophthalmologist for a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment options. A comprehensive eye exam, including an evaluation of eyelid structure and function, will help determine the presence and cause of ectropion and allow for the proper course of treatment to be prescribed.

In addition to diagnosing and treating ectropion, an ophthalmologist can help you manage any underlying conditions contributing to the disorder’s development, such as facial nerve damage or skin conditions. By addressing these underlying causes and providing appropriate treatment, the risk of complications and the overall impact of ectropion on your eye health can be minimized.

Don’t let ectropion hold you back from enjoying your daily activities and living your life to the fullest. If you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms of ectropion, consult an ophthalmologist to ensure your eye health is well taken care of and to help you regain comfort and confidence in your vision.


In summary, ectropion is an eyelid disorder characterized by the outward turning of the lower eyelid, leading to irritation, dryness, and redness. Understanding the different types of ectropion, their causes, and the various treatment options available is crucial for maintaining your eye health and comfort. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help prevent complications and improve the overall well-being of your eyes.

By taking proactive steps to address your eyelid concerns and seeking prompt medical attention when symptoms arise, you can protect your eyes and ensure a bright and healthy future for your vision.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you treat ectropion?

For treating ectropion, it is recommended to use artificial tears and ointments for mild cases, while eyelid surgery may be necessary for more severe cases. In any case, aggressive lubrication of the eyes should be done to protect the ocular surface from complications.

What happens if ectropion is left untreated?

If left untreated, ectropion can cause dryness and sores on the cornea, which can lead to vision damage. Treatment is available through surgery to make the eyelid muscles stronger.

What are the 4 types of ectropion?

Ectropion is classified into four main types: involutional, cicatricial, mechanical and paralytic. Involutional ectropion occurs due to lax muscles and ligaments with age, while cicatricial is caused by scarring of the lower lid. Paralytic ectropion results from a facial nerve problem, and mechanical ectropion is caused by excessive weight on the lid.

What is the treatment for entropion?

Entropion can be treated with eye drops, soft contact lenses, tape or stitches, Botox® injections, and surgical entropion repair. OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) can also be injected to turn the eyelid outward, lasting up to six months. Stitches can also be used to turn the eyelid out with local anesthesia.

What causes ectropion?

Ectropion is commonly caused by age-related weakening of eyelid muscles and tendons, scarring or skin tightness due to trauma, surgery, or skin conditions, and facial nerve damage or paralysis.


  1. “Ectropion: Diagnosis and Management” –
  2. “Ectropion: Overview, Causes, and Treatment” –
  3. “Ectropion: A Comprehensive Review” –
  4. “Ectropion: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment” –
  5. “Management of Ectropion: An Update” –


Photo graph of Dr. Conlon operating with loops on.

Dr. M. Ronan Conlon started his career in the field of ophthalmology at the same time as the development of refractive eye surgery in Canada. In 1996, he brought laser technology to Canada from Germany, which allowed him to perform laser eye surgery before it was available in the United States. With the establishment of the Conlon Eye Institute, Dr. Conlon has performed more than 40,000 refractive procedures and has advanced his expertise in LASIK and refractive cataract surgery.


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