The eyelids and tear system protect the eyes and keep them moist. Several medical conditions interfere with these functions-and negatively affect the patient’s appearance as well.
Entropion is when the lower eyelid is turned inward, causing the lid and eyelashes to rub constantly against the cornea. This painful condition results from aging and other causes and can lead to eye damage. Ectropion is when the lower eyelid is turned out, leaving the eye exposed. This leads to dryness and to chronic irritation that can lead to impaired vision. Again, the main cause is aging. Both conditions can be treated with surgery.
Ptosis, drooping of the upper eyelid, is sometimes present at birth and can also develop in older people. For children, ptosis can prevent normal vision development (see amblyopia) and should be treated surgically during the preschool years. Ptosis in adults usually results from the stretching of the muscles as they age, but it can also be caused by nerve problems. Ptosis surgery restores muscle function and excess skin can be removed as well.
The eyelids can also be affected by injuries and cancers. Any new or growing bump on your eyelids-or any sore that is not healing-should be evaluated by a physician. If a malignancy is removed from an eyelid, surgery will likely restore eyelid appearance and function.
About 7% of all newborns suffer from blocked tear ducts-the passages that allow moisture to drain naturally out of the eye and into the nasal cavity. Normally, this blockage clears up by itself within a few weeks. If it does not, there are a variety of techniques for clearing the obstruction, ranging from tear duct massage performed by a parent to the temporary insertion of small tubes to keep the ducts open. For more information about eyelid and tear duct conditions, read about our Oculoplastic Surgery service.