Labelled Diagram of the Eye

Labelled diagram of the structure of the retina

Ectropion is the turning-out of the lower-eyelid, away from the eyeball.

If the lower-eyelid begins to hang away from the eyeball, a small but open / "shelving" or "pocket" may develop, into which tears may collect then later over-flow, causing the effect of the eye seeming to "water" excessively. At the same time, the eyelid hanging away from the eyeball may caused the exposed part of the eyeball to become dry and therefore irritated and sore.

If left untreated, ectropion may in some cases lead to conjunctival keratinization, that is the cells of the conjunctiva becoming horny due to deposition of the protein keratin within them.

There are several forms of ectropion (classified according to cause).

These include:

  • Involutional ectropion - the most common form of ectropion, this is due to the increasing laxity of tissues associated with the normal ageing process. In this case both eyes are usually affected equally, or to similar extent.
  • Cicatricial ectropion - related to scarring (recall that cicatrix is the medical term for a scar), e.g. as a result of burns. In this case, either one or both eyes may be affected.
  • Mechanical ectropion - may be due to excess weight of the eye-lid itself, such as e.g. due to tumour.
  • Paralytic ectropion - associated with facial nerve palsy, this classification applies to ectropion resulting from damage to the facial nerve that supplies and controls the affected lower-eyelid. May involve incomplete closure of the affected eye-lid.
  • Congenital ectropion - that is, ectropion present since birth. May occur as part of blepharophimosis syndrome.

Treatments may involve ointments to relieve irritation by lubricating the eye. In more severe and / or long-term cases, surgery to tighten the eyelid is sometimes recommended.

More about Ophthalmology:

This section includes short definitions of many diseases, disorders, and conditions of the eyes and visual system.
For definitions of other terms in this category, choose from the list to the left (but note that this is not a complete/exhaustive list).

Other related pages include

For further information see also our pages of books about ophthalmology.

The following books may also be of interest:

The Aging Eye (Harvard Medical School)
MCQ Companion to the Eye (Textbook)
The Secret of Perfect Vision: How You Can Prevent and Reverse Nearsightedness
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About(TM) Glaucoma: The Essential Treatments and Advances That Could Save Your Sight

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