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WATERY EYES: Caused by Ingrowing Eyelashes

Eye Practice
WATERY EYES: Caused by Ingrowing Eyelashes

Watery Eyes has many causes: Ingrowing or ingrown eyelashes can cause watery eyes.

The medical term for this condition is called trichiasis (trick-eye-ah-sis). When the eyelashes are misdirected, instead of growing outward as you would expect, the lash grows inward, heading for the eyeball or eyelid (conjunctiva). Not only is this condition quite uncomfortable from the constant rubbing of the lashes inward, it created epiphora (watery eyes).

Trichiasis can affect the entire lash set (your entire upper or lower lid), or, it can affect a small portion of the lashes. The former is called diffuse, and the latter is called simple trichiasis. But what causes the lashes to grow in the wrong direction?

There are several causes that can make your lashes grow in the wrong direction.

•    Infections: Though this is rare in the United States, an infection of the eye called Trachoma can cause the eyelashes to grow inward. Another infection that can do this is herpes zoster.

•    Autoimmune disorders: Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and seasonal allergic reaction called Vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC), which typically occurs in Spring (hence the use of the term Vernal).

•    Eye trauma: Injuries, over-correction in surgery, chemical burns, and thermal burns are a few ways that the eyelids can be affected, causing the lashes to grow in the wrong direction.

•    Entropion: When the edges of the eyelid turn inward, either due to aging, a congenital condition, or other reasons, the lashes grow toward the eye.

•    Epiblepharon: A typically congenital condition that presents with a redundant skin fold under the eyelid, pushing the lashes toward the eye. This is common amongst Asian children.

•    Distichiasis: This can be either acquired or congenital – when the eyelashes grow out of the meibomian glands (that produce oily tears) at the inner eyelid.

 

Treatment for trichiasis depends entirely upon how you have acquired it. However, surgical treatment is a primary requirement to help encourage your lashes to grow in the right direction.

For simple trichiasis, carefully removing the offending lashes and follicles will be used.This is very simple and if done correctly can redirect the eyelashes away from the eye and hence stop the watery, irritated eyes.  This procedure is safe and non-surgical.  It is certainly the preferred approach before trying more aggressive options.

In more complicated cases, surgeries include repositioning of the lashes, repositioning of the eyelid (particularly in the case of entropion), or removal of the redundant skin fold or folds in the case of epiblepharon.  This should be done by an oculoplastic trained eye surgeon.

If you have a more serious disorder, such as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, your referred specialist, will gear your therapeutic treatments toward managing SJS or other disorder that you have. Managing the underlying cause is important to ensuring that trichiasis isn't a repeat offender in your eye.

Trichiasis can cause problems with your eye, including scarring and vision impairment. Therefore, if you have any symptoms of watery eyes, and discomfort, and notice that some of your lashes poke your eyes or otherwise irritate them, don't try to solve it yourself (as in pulling them out with tweezers – that can be dangerous and make things worse).

Visit Dr Jim Kokkinakis at The Eye Practice, who will be able to help you with trichiasis, and prescribe therapeutic measures to treat it, and prevent future incidents.  Call now on 9290 1899 for an appointment.

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