Ectropion describes the turning out of the eyelid so that the inner surface ("conjunctiva") of the eyelid is exposed to the air. This affects the lower eyelid much more commonly than the upper lid.
The most common group of people who get ectropion are the elderly with loosening of the eyelid. It can also happen in patients who have nerve damage to the muscles of the eyelid, or it can be caused by changes in the skin, either from skin cancers or inflammation and scarring. In Australia tightening of the skin caused by years of sun exposure is a very common cause of ectropion.
What are the symptoms of Ectropion?
Excessive mucus production, a watery eye, blurring of vision, recurrent conjunctivitis and a generally red and irritated eye that feels gritty and dry can all be caused by ectropion.
When should it be treated?
In some patients with severe recurrent infections or deterioration of vision from scarring of the surface of the eye due to lack of protection by the eyelid, surgical treatment is absolutely necessary. Cases of mild ectropion can be treated with regular lubricants and review of the surface of the eye to monitor for any damage.
In addition long term malposition of the lid will lead to structural changes to the lid and lashes that may lead to eye problems in the future
What does the treatment involve?
If surgical treatment is required, then a day surgery procedure under an assisted local anaesthetic will be offered.
How will I look immediately after surgery?
The operated eye will be bandaged for 2-3 days after the operation. Bruising may last 1-2weeks but often there is little postoperative bruising. The lid can look a little tight and will relax to a natural curve within 2-3 months. If a skin graft is required then it can take some months for the graft to blend in with the surrounding skin.
What is the recovery time?
Most patients will take 1 week off work. Physical activity in the first week should be minimal and then building up to a normal level over the next two weeks. When the bandage is in place, depth perception is difficult when looking out of just one eye, so extra care must be taken to avoid falls.
What are the risks?
Any surgery carries risk, overall the risks for this procedure are low and will be discussed fully at the time of your consultation. Often the risk to the eye and vision if the operation is not performed outweighs any risk of the operation.
How long do the results of the surgery last?
Our tissues change as we age and changes however it is very uncommon for redo surgery to be required.
Is there anyone who shouldn't have this surgery?
There are very few people who cannot have this procedure. In all cases this procedure is eligible for rebates from medicare and private health funds.