What You Need to Know

Ectropion is a condition in which your lower lid, which in normally situated right against your eyeball, pulls away and your tears can’t drain properly.


In ectropion, your tears can’t drain properly. Normally, tears are spread evenly across the surface of your eyes, moistening and lubricating the surface. This film of tears continuously drains from the surface of your eye down into the lids and into very small openings called puncta (say PUNK-ta.)

If tears are not draining properly, it’s not surprising that symptoms include watery eyes, resulting from the pooling of tears. Other symptoms may include dryness; with your eyes feeling gritty, sandy and scratchy. The buildup of stagnant tears can also irritate your eyes, causing a burning sensation and redness, it may also increase your sensitivity to light.


Ectropion can have several causes, including aging. As the muscles and tendons under the eye start to weaken, the eyelid can droop and pull away from the surface of the eyeball. Other conditions, such as facial paralysis, scars, previous eyelid surgeries and eyelid growths (benign or cancerous) can cause the eyelid to turn outward. Also, people who have a history of cancer, burns or trauma on the face, are at higher risk for developing ectropion.

How Is Ectropion Treated?

If not treated, your cornea remains irritated and unprotected by a normal film of tears. This can lead to serious complications, including painful corneal abrasions (scratches) or even a corneal ulcer.

Diagnosis is usually straightforward and can be seen on a physical exam of the eye and surrounding tissues. Mild ectropion may be treated by artificial tears to keep the surface of your eye moist and lubricated.

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