Ectropion (Drooping Eyelids)

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Ectropion: Drooping Eyelids


Ectropion is a medical condition characterized by the outward turning of the lower eyelid, causing the eyelid to droop away from the eyeball. This results in the exposure of the inner surface of the eyelid, which is normally protected from the elements.


  • Aging: The most common cause of ectropion is aging. With age, the skin and muscles supporting the eyelid weaken and stretch, leading to the eyelid’s outward rotation.
  • Facial Paralysis: Damage to the facial nerve, which controls muscle movement in the face, can result in the paralysis of the eyelid muscles, causing ectropion.
  • Trauma: Injuries to the eyelid or surrounding area, such as burns or lacerations, can disrupt the eyelid’s structure and lead to ectropion.
  • Eyelid Inflammation: Chronic inflammation of the eyelid (blepharitis) can cause scarring and thickening of the eyelid’s inner lining, contributing to ectropion.
  • Eyelid Tumors: Tumors or growths on the eyelid can alter its shape and cause ectropion.
  • Congenital: Rarely, ectropion can be present at birth (congenital), due to an underlying developmental abnormality.


  • Drooping of the lower eyelid
  • Exposure of the inner eyelid (conjunctiva)
  • Tearing (epiphora)
  • Dryness and irritation of the eye
  • Difficulty closing the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Pain or discomfort in the eyelid


  • Corneal Abrasions: The exposed conjunctiva can become irritated and dry, leading to corneal abrasions (scratches on the clear outer layer of the eye).
  • Corneal Ulcers: Chronic irritation and exposure can damage the cornea, causing corneal ulcers (open sores).
  • Infection: The exposed conjunctiva is more prone to infection due to its increased exposure to bacteria.
  • Vision Impairment: Severe ectropion can cause blurred vision and other visual disturbances.


The diagnosis of ectropion involves:

  • Physical Examination: The doctor will examine the eyelids, check for drooping, and assess the extent of the ectropion.
  • Slit-Lamp Examination: A specialized microscope is used to evaluate the cornea and conjunctiva for any abnormalities.
  • Tear Film Evaluation: Tests are performed to assess the quality and tear production of the eye.


The treatment goal for ectropion is to correct the eyelid’s position and restore its normal function. Treatment options include:

  • Non-Surgical Treatment:
    • Lubricating Eye Drops: Artificial tears or ointments can help soothe irritation and dryness.
    • Eyelid Taping: Adhesive tape can be used to temporarily lift the eyelid and improve corneal coverage.
  • Surgical Treatment:
    • Eyelid Tightening: The lower eyelid is surgically lifted and tightened to correct the ectropion.
    • Tendon Tuck: The tendons that support the eyelid are shortened and tightened to improve eyelid closure.
    • Conjunctival Grafting: A tissue graft from the conjunctiva is used to reinforce the inner surface of the eyelid and provide additional support.


While ectropion is not always preventable, there are certain measures that may help reduce the risk:

  • Protecting the Eyes: Wearing sunglasses or protective eyewear can shield the eyes from wind, sun, and other environmental irritants.
  • Avoiding Eye Rubbing: Excessive eye rubbing can damage the eyelid’s delicate skin and muscles.
  • Managing Chronic Eyelid Conditions: Treating underlying eyelid conditions, such as blepharitis, can help prevent the development of ectropion.


The outlook for ectropion is generally good. Most cases can be successfully treated with surgical intervention or non-surgical measures. However, prompt treatment is essential to prevent complications and maintain optimal eye health.

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