Ectropion (ek-TROH-pee-on) is a condition in which your eyelid — typically the lower lid — turns out. This leaves the inner eyelid surface exposed and prone to irritation. Ectropion is more common in older adults.

In severe ectropion, the entire length of the eyelid is turned out. When ectropion is less severe, only one segment of the eyelid sags away from the eye.

Artificial tears can help relieve the symptoms caused by ectropion until you can have surgery to correct the condition.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Normally when you blink, your eyelids distribute tears evenly across your eyes, keeping them lubricated. These tears drain into the little openings on the inner part of your eyelids (puncta). When you have ectropion, your lower lid pulls away from your eye and tears don't drain into the puncta properly, causing a number of signs and symptoms:

  • Irritation. Stagnant tears or dryness can irritate your eyes, causing a burning sensation and redness in your eyelids and the whites of your eyes. The stagnant tears and dryness can also irritate the surface of the cornea, making you sensitive to light.
  • Excessive tearing. Without proper drainage, your tears may pool and constantly flow over your eyelids. Many people with ectropion complain of watery or weepy eyes.
  • Excessive dryness. Ectropion can cause your eyes to feel dry, gritty and sandy.

When to see a doctor

If you begin noticing that your eyes are constantly watering or irritated, or your eyelid seems to be sagging or drooping, make an appointment to see your doctor for an evaluation.

If you know that you have ectropion, be alert for symptoms of cornea exposure or ulcers, including rapidly increasing redness, pain, light sensitivity or decreasing vision. If you experience any of these vision-threatening signs and symptoms, seek immediate care in an ophthalmologist's office or an emergency room.

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