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Ectropion is the medical term used to describe outward turning of the lower eyelid and eyelashes.
The margin of the eyelid and the eyelashes evert (turn out). This can lead to excessive tearing, crusting of the eyelid, mucous discharge and irritation of the eye.
Most cases of ectropion are due to relaxation of the tissues of the eyelid as a result of ageing. Some cases result from scarring of the eyelid caused by chemical and thermal burns, trauma, skin cancers, or previous eyelid surgery.
A palsy of the seventh cranial nerve can also cause significant laxness to the lower eyelid. Often this causes more than just an out-turning of the lower eyelid. Rarely ectropion can be present at birth if the eyelids do not form properly.
Ectropion can only be repaired surgically. Prior to surgery, the eye can be protected by using lubricating drops and ointment. The surgery to repair ectropion is usually performed under local anaesthesia as an outpatient. In most cases, the eyelid and its attachments will be tightened.
Use of an antibiotic ointment for about a week or two is advised. After your eyelids heal, your eye will feel comfortable and you will not longer have the risk of corneal scarring, infection, and (rarely) loss of vision.
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