Everyone gets foreign material like dust or eyelashes in their eyes from time to time. Entropion is the feeling of something in your eye most, if not all, of the time. It is actually the eyelid or eyelash that is affecting the inner membranes.
Entropion occurs when the eyelid turns or folds inward toward your eye. When this occurs, the eyelashes also turn in and rub against the surface of the eyeball. This scratchy sensation imitates the feeling of something in the eye. Depending on the person, the issue can be constant, or occur when blinking or tightly closing the eyes.
The symptoms of entropion are the same as having something in the eye since that is essentially what has happened. Eyes will be red, irritated, and watery with excess mucus. Some people will have difficulty seeing. Usually, it is the lower eyelid that causes this issue.
Entropion usually has a genetic cause. It is a rare condition among young people and children and is generally seen in people over the age of 60. It usually occurs because the muscles that control the eyelids have weakened or relaxed with age and the skin is losing its collagen content.
Congenital entropion affects babies, but this is very rare. Herpes zoster ophthalmicus or HZO, an eye infection, can result in entropion. Trachoma is a disease caused by bacteria, usually spread by flies, that can cause blindness and is common in Africa. Surgeries and eye injuries such as burns can also cause entropion. Lastly, an autoimmune disease called ocular cicatricial pemphigoid can cause the eyelid to fold in on itself.
An optometrist or ophthalmologist can diagnose entropion with a simple eye exam. The eye doctor may ask the patient if they have had any trauma to the eye or any diseases known to cause entropion. A "snap test" checks the elasticity of the eyelid.
If entropion is serious, the only way to treat it is through surgery. In mild cases, the eye doctor may prescribe eye drops to soothe irritation; this may be enough to remove the need for surgery. If an underlying disease or condition is causing entropion, the eye doctor will treat the condition, which should correct the related issue.
Botox injections and suturing the loose skin together on the eyelids can alleviate entropion. The injections relax the skin, especially around the lower eyelid, preventing it from curling tightly inward. This is helpful if muscle spasms cause the issue. It usually takes several injections to achieve the desired effect. Suturing the eyelid requires a local anesthetic and usually about three stitches.
If entropion is extreme and causing damage, the eye doctor may prescribe surgery. The doctor will choose the best procedure based on the cause of the condition. For example, if the muscles and skin have relaxed, the surgeon may remove a small part of the eyelid to tighten it up. If there is scarring from previous surgery or an injury, the surgeon may graft a small piece of skin taken from the ear.
Entropion can damage the cornea, so if the condition begins causing vision issues, the individual should immediately seek medical attention. Other indicators of more serious issues include increased sensitivity to light, pain in that eye, or sudden redness. These are all signs of an injury to the cornea, which can lead to blindness if not treated.
Entropion is a frustrating condition that can become quite serious. Unfortunately, due to its genetic nature, it is not a condition that you can prevent beyond taking general good care of the eyes. Essentially, everyone should avoid accidents and burns to the face and eyes by wearing protective equipment.
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