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What is entropion?

Normally the upper and lower eyelids rest comfortably against the surface of the eye. They help to protect the surface of the eye and keep it moist and lubricated. Entropion happens when the eyelid (usually the lower eyelid) rolls in towards the eye. The edge of the eyelid and the eyelashes can rub against the surface of the eye and irritate it. If not treated, entropion can lead to long-term tearing problems and scarring of the surface of the eye.

How does it occur?

Entropion may be caused by:

  • Eyelid tissues that become too loose and cause the lower eyelid to roll in. Eyelid tissues usually get looser as you get older.
  • Scarring of the inner surface of the eyelid that pulls on the edge of the eyelid and causes it to roll inward. Scarring can be caused by injury, surgery, or irritation from eyedrops.
  • Irritation of the eye that causes the muscles of the eyelid to squeeze tightly closed. This can cause the edge of the eyelid to roll in against the eye.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of entropion include:

  • gritty feeling or sharp pain
  • watery eyes
  • decreased or cloudy vision
  • discharge
  • redness of the eyes

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine your eyes. He may use a special microscope (a slit lamp) to look closely at your eye. You may also have photographs taken to document the way your eyelids look, which helps in your follow up care.

How is it treated?

If you have mild entropion with few symptoms your healthcare provider may recommend treatment with artificial tear drops and ointment to keep your eye comfortable. Special skin tape can help pull the edge of your lid and eyelashes away from the surface of your eye. Place one end of the tape just below your eyelid in the middle. Pull down gently so that the eyelid is in a normal position. Then attach the other end of the tape to your cheek. Your healthcare provider can show you how to apply the tape. These treatments make your eye feel better, but do not correct the problem.

If it is caused by a spasm, ectropion may be treated with BOTOX injections in the eyelid.

For more severe entropion your healthcare provider may put stitches in the eyelid to try to keep it from rolling in against your eye or may recommend surgery to tighten the eyelid. Your healthcare provider may also recommend the removal of several eyelashes to prevent them from irritating the cornea. This can be done with special tweezers, heat treatment or laser treatment.

How long will the effects last?

Entropion does not go away by itself. If entropion is not treated, your eyelid and eye may get more irritated. It can lead to a corneal abrasion or an ulcer. Sometimes, entropion will come back after surgery, and you may need to have more than one surgery.

How can I prevent entropion?

Entropion cannot be prevented. However, regular eye exams will allow your eye care provider to start treatment earlier.

Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site:
Written by Dr. Daniel Garibaldi.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-12-10
Last reviewed: 2010-10-18
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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