Eyelid conditions

There are a number of eyelid conditions that we can successfully treat, medically or cosmetically, including; ectropion (eyelids drooping down), entropion (eyelids turning in) and cysts in the eye area. Treatments include blepharoplasty (sometimes called ‘eyelid lift’), insertion of punctum plugs and lacrimal sac washout.

Ectropion (eyelids drooping down and turning outwards)

Ectropion usually affects the lower eyelid, where the eyelid droops away from the eye and turns outwards. It can affect one or both eyes, and is usually age-related. It's not usually a serious condition, but it can be uncomfortable when the tear duct constantly leaks fluid away from the eye, leading to ‘dry eye’.

Without treatment ectropion can, rarely, cause a corneal ulcer to develop on the eye's surface which could affect your vision.

Entropion (eyelids turning in)

Entropion is where the eyelids turn inwards, towards the eye; this can cause the lashes to irritate or damage the surface of the eye. It usually affects the lower lids, may occur in one or both eyes, and is often age-related. The irritation caused by entropion can be uncomfortable and rarely, if not treated, cause a corneal ulcer to develop on the eye's surface which could affect your vision.

Severe entropion can be painful, and when eye-drops are not effective at relieving the pain or if the condition is posing a risk to your eye health, surgery may be required.

Cysts or lumps in the eye area

Lumps, cysts and styes can occur on or around the eyes or on the eyelids; they can be unsightly and irritate the surface of the eye. Most of these will be quite harmless but, rarely, these could signal a more serious underlying condition, so you should always have these checked by your doctor who may recommend their removal.

Dry eye syndrome

Dry eye syndrome, which is usually age-related, occurs when the fluid created by the tear ducts no longer keeps the surface of the eye adequately lubricated. This may be because the tear ducts are not creating enough fluid, or that the fluid being produced is being lost from the eye, perhaps due to an eyelid abnormality. Sometimes surgery may be required to treat dry eye syndrome.

Ectropion and entropion are most often associated with getting older, caused as the muscles and tissues of the eyelids become weaker as you age.

Sometimes there are other causes of ectropion and entropion, including:

  • a tumour, lump or cyst on the eyelid
  • an issue with the nerves controlling the eyelids (as seen in Bell’s palsy, a type of paralysis of the face)
  • damaged skin around the eyelid (for example, because of an injury, a skin condition, a burn, or previous surgery)

Ectropion/entropion usually affects the lower eyelids, in one or both eyes. Symptoms include:

  • sore, red and irritated eyes
  • eyes watering excessively
  • eyes feel dry and gritty
  • eyes vulnerable to bacterial infections (for example, conjunctivitis)

Your doctor or optician (optometrist) should be able to accurately diagnose your eyelid condition after a short examination and by discussing your symptoms. You may be recommended for referral to an eye specialist for further assessment or treatment.

Eyelid conditions

There are various treatments for eyelid conditions depending on the exact cause of the problem. Treatment options range from self-medication with eye-drops for mild cases to surgery to correct more severe conditions.

What next?

If you are suffering with a suspected condition, you should seek the advice of your doctor who will be able to refer you to Benenden Hospital for diagnosis and treatment.

There are four ways to access treatment at Benenden Hospital which include self-funding, using private medical insurance or your Benenden membership, or through the NHS e-Referral scheme.