Entropion is a condition in which the eyelid turns inward so that the eyelashes and skin rub against the eye surface causing irritation and discomfort.
Most cases of entropion are in older adults and it typically affects the lower eyelid.
Artificial tears and lubricating ointments can relieve symptoms of entropion but it is likely that surgery will be necessary to correct it. Untreated entropion may lead to damage of the cornea, eye infections and vision loss.
The symptoms of entropion are caused by the friction of the eyelashes and outer eyelid against the surface of the eye. Symptoms may include:
- The feeling that there's something in your eye
- Redness of the white part of your eye
- Eye irritation or pain
- Sensitivity to light and wind
- Watery eyes (excessive tearing)
- Mucous discharge and eyelid crusting
- Decreased vision
The causes of entropion include:
- Muscle weakness: weakness and relaxation of the muscle and tendons under the eyes due to aging.
- Scars or previous surgeries: scarred skin from chemical burns, trauma or surgery can lead to entropion.
- Eye infection: an eye infection such as trachoma can cause scarring of the inner eyelid and lead to entropion and even blindness.
- Inflammation or infection: these can lead to a so-called spastic entropion.
- Developmental complication: in rare cases entropion can be congenital.
Risk factors for entropion include:
- Increasing age
- Previous burns and scar tissue
- Trachoma infection
The most serious complication of entropion is corneal irritation and damage. The constant friction of the eyelashes and eyelid on the cornea can lead to corneal breakdown and ulcers, which can result in permanent vision loss. Eye drops and ointments may help protect the cornea and prevent damage until surgery is available to correct the problem.
In general, entropion is not preventable.
Symptoms of redness and irritation after a visit of an area affected by trachoma infection require immediate treatment.