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Entropion

Entropion is when your eyelid and eyelashes turn inwards and rub against the surface of your eyeball.

About entropion

Entropion is a condition that can affect one or both of your eyelids, usually the lower ones. If you have entropion, the edge of your eyelid and eyelashes turn inwards and rub against the surface of your eye. The areas of your eye most affected are your cornea (the clear dome at the front of your eye) and your conjunctiva (the transparent layer that covers the white of your eye and lines your eyelids).

         A person with an entropion in the left lower eyelid, which has turned inwards.
                                                            Entropion

Entropion can affect any age group but it's more common in older adults.

Symptoms of entropion

Common symptoms of entropion include:

  • watering eyes
  • irritated, red eyes
  • feeling like there is a bit of dirt or grit in your eye
  • blurred vision

If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP for advice.

Complications of entropion

If your cornea becomes dry and irritated, you may get corneal ulceration (a sore on your cornea). Your eye may become red and painful; you may find bright lights uncomfortable and have blurred vision. A corneal ulcer may become infected and can cause loss of sight, so it's important to see your GP immediately if you have these symptoms.

Causes of entropion

There are a number of possible causes of entropion. Some of the main ones are listed below.

  • Ageing. This is the most common cause of entropion. As you get older, the skin and muscles around your eyes start to weaken. This can cause your eyelid to turn inwards.
  • Scarring. Burns, surgery to your face or infection can all cause entropion. They can lead to scarring to the inside of your eyelid, which can cause it to turn inwards.
  • Muscle spasms around your eye. These can develop when your eye becomes irritated (for example, because of an infection or after surgery).
  • Congenital conditions. Entropion can be something that you're born with, though this is rare.

Diagnosis of entropion

Your GP will ask about your symptoms and examine your eyes. He or she will probably be able to diagnose entropion from your symptoms and a physical examination.

Your GP or optician may refer you to an ophthalmologist (a doctor who specialises in eye health, including eye surgery).

Treatment of entropion

Your treatment will depend on the cause of your entropion and how severe it is.

Self-help

Using surgical or waterproof tape to tape your eyelid to the skin of your cheek can be an effective way to ease your symptoms. Your doctor will show you how to apply the tape and you will need to change it regularly when the tension of the tape eases.

Wearing therapeutic contact lenses can help to protect your cornea from your eyelashes rubbing against it.

Medicines

Your GP may advise you to use artificial tears or medicines to keep your eyes moist and ease your symptoms. You can buy these from your pharmacist. Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine and if you have any questions, ask your pharmacist for advice.

If your entropion is caused by muscle spasms, your doctor may suggest an injection of Botulinum A toxin. This weakens the muscles that are in spasm and lasts a few months.

Surgery

There are different types of operation you can have depending on the cause of your entropion.

Sometimes a few stitches (sutures) are used to pull your eyelid into the correct position. This may be done as a temporary measure before you have surgery to repair the entropion.

The aim of surgery is to tighten your eyelid and its attachments, in order to return it to its normal position. This procedure is usually carried out under local anaesthesia in the hospital outpatient department. The anaesthetic completely blocks feeling from the eye area and you will stay awake during the procedure.

After your operation, you may need to wear an eye patch overnight. You may be given an antibiotic ointment to use for about a week.

 

Produced by Dylan Merkett, Health Information Team, September 2012.

For answers to frequently asked questions on this topic, see FAQs.

For sources and links to further information, see Resources.

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  • This information was published by Bupa's Health Information Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition. The content is intended only for general information and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional. For more details on how we produce our content and its sources, visit the about our health information page.

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