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WATERY EYES: Caused by Ectropion

It’s normal for eyes to water in certain conditions, such […]

By Published On: 31 December 20162.8 min read

It’s normal for eyes to water in certain conditions, such as cutting an onion or in cold windy conditions. But are your eyes watering for no reason? Watery Eyes (or Epiphora) can have many causes.

Some can be simple to fix, yet other causes might require surgery.

The very opposite of entropion (or inward turning eyelids) is called ectropion (eck-TROH-pee-on). It is a condition in which some of the eyelid, or all of the eyelid, turns outward. This turning outward typically strikes the lower eyelid, and is quite irritating to the eye. The globe of your eye (your eyeball), and your inner eyelid are exposed to the air. This can dry your eyes out, and, ironically enough, when your eyes start to dry out, you will produce tears to try to compensate.

One of the signs and symptoms of ectropion is watery eyes.

Causes of Ectropion

There are many causes of ectropion – most are from problems with the surrounding muscle and tissue of the eyelid.

  • Surgery: Over-correction of previous problems, such as entropion, can cause ectropion. This can also happen with cosmetic eye surgeries, or radiation therapy to treat certain cancerous growths.
  • Congenital disorders: People with Down syndrome are sometimes born with ectropion.
  • Weight loss surgery and other rapid weight loss: If you have had recent, rapid weight loss, ectropion can occur.
  • Growths: Any kind of growths on the eyelid can cause this problem.
  • Muscle problems: Weakness in the muscles or facial paralysis (often seen with Bell’s palsy), can relax the lid too much, causing it to droop. Aging can also cause this weakness to occur, causing ectropion.
  • Scars: Scarring and trauma to the eyelids can also cause this disorder.

Because the eyelid is pulled away from the eyeball, your eye will not drain properly. This can cause the three major signs and symptoms of ectropion:

  • Epiphora – the excessive overflow of tears is twofold. One, your eyes are trying to compensate for being dried out, and two, your puncta (the little tear ducts at the inner corner of your eye) are not draining properly.
  • Gritty feeling in the affected eye.
  • Irritation and burning in the affected eye.

Sagging or drooping eyelids are also a sign of ectropion.

If left untreated, ectropion can lead to serious problems with the eye, including corneal ulcers, and corneal abrasions. These complications can lead to permanent vision loss. Therefore, if you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see your eye care professional right away, as he or she can give you eyedrops and ointments to use to prevent damage until you can have surgical correction.

Surgical treatment varies, depending on the cause of your ectropion. Scar tissue may need to be managed, and other surgical procedures may be necessary.

You will likely be given drops and ointments to use at home until the time of your surgery. In other words, don’t try to treat this at home – the complications can be serious.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of ectropion, and have noticed that your eye lids are drooping, and have watery eyes, come and see Dr Jim Kokkinakis for advice.

Though it may require referral to an oculoplastic ophthalmologist, it is well worth saving your sight!  It is imperative that you are referred to the right ophthalmologist that specialises in correcting ectropion.


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