We are all aware that as we age, our muscles weaken and are no longer able to support various areas of our skin and body like they used to. Whilst many of us accept these signs of ageing, they can sometimes cause problems that require medical intervention to resolve. One of these problems is eyelid laxity or loose eyelids. A condition where our eyelids lose their muscular support and become loose, turning either inwards towards the eye or outwards away from the eye.
In many instances, eyelid laxity doesn’t cause a problem requiring surgery; however, in some cases, eyelid laxity can cause damage to the eye that, if left untreated, can lead to serious and permanent damage. This month, OCL Vision takes a look at how, if left untreated, eyelid laxity could lead to bigger vision problems in the future.
Entropion refers to an eyelid that is turning inward towards your eyeball. In some cases, the turning in of the eyelid may happen intermittently throughout the day rather than being permanently visible. This diagnosis is most common in men and women over the age of 60 because the eyelid can weaken with age. It is important to treat Entropion as complications could become a permanent issue, including infections, corneal abrasions, and vision loss.
Ectropion refers to a condition where the eyelid loosens and turns outward away from the eye. As the inner surface of the eye is no longer protected, this condition can cause irritation, pain, and dryness. Similarly to Entropion, Ectropion is generally caused by weakened eye muscles due to age. It can also be caused by facial paralysis, known as Bell’s palsy, injury to the eyelid or a lump, cyst, or tumour on the eyelid.
Whilst you may have been living with unresolved eyelid laxity for some time, damage to your eyes as a result of entropion or ectropion can happen seemingly overnight. As previously mentioned above, there are several complications that could result from loose eyelids, including:
Eye infections – ranging from mild to serious; eye infections are not only uncomfortable, but they could leave you with lasting damage that is irreversible.
Corneal abrasions – scratches on your cornea become more likely as loose eyelids leave your corneas without the protection they need. Corneal abrasions can be incredibly painful and potentially leave you with permanent damage.
Vision loss – in rare circumstances, if left untreated, corneal exposure from ectropion or corneal irritation from entropion can cause inflammation, thinning and scarring of the cornea (the clear window at the front of your eye). It is important to address the underlying lid problem promptly to avoid potential complications developing.
Irritation – less serious but no less challenging is constant irritation in and around your eye. Many patients describe this feeling as having a foreign object in the eye and being unable to remove it.
Dry eyes – Dry eyes are a common symptom of eyelid laxity as a result of the eye being more exposed than normal to daily elements. Whilst this can be treated with drops, without intervention, the issue will not resolve itself.
Redness or watering – constant redness and watering in and around the eyes can be incredibly irritating.
Daily pain – eye pain can be incredibly debilitating, leaving us unable to focus on daily tasks, finding ourselves more irritable than usual and resorting to pain medication to alleviate the symptoms.
Now that we have discussed the daily challenges, it’s time to look at the various treatments available to combat loose eyelids and get back to a normal life. Luckily, there are many ways to support and treat eyelid laxity.
If you have been diagnosed as having either entropion or ectropion, and your diagnosis is mild, your doctor may decide that you don’t need any further treatment to resolve the problem. However, over time your loose eyelids are likely to worsen and may need treatment further down the line.
To combat feelings of pain, irritation, and dry eyes, you may be prescribed eye drops to use during the day and eye ointments at night. Note that this will not treat your eyelid laxity but rather the associated symptoms.
If you are faced with eye infections as a result of eyelid laxity, you will likely be prescribed antibiotics to help fight off infection. These antibiotics will work on the eye infection at the time and will not reduce the likelihood of infections in the future.
Botulinum toxin injections can be used as a temporising measure for entropion – turning in of the eyelid caused by excessive lid laxity. Injecting a small amount in the lower lid can temporarily alleviate symptoms and relax the turned-in eyelid, but for the majority, botulinum toxin only lasts a few months and is not a permanent solution.
Surgery can offer a complete resolution to correct and restore loose eyelids and put them back in their correct position. Surgery, whilst more invasive than other treatments, is a permanent and rectifying solution to eyelid laxity problems and can resolve all associated symptoms. Both entropion and ectropion surgery involves repositioning and tightening the muscles and supporting tendons that maintain the eyelids in their normal position around the eye.
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If you are facing eyelid laxity on a daily basis and require treatment to resolve the condition, book a consultation with our acclaimed oculoplastic surgeon Dr Susan Sarangapani today. Operating from our London and Elstree Clinics, Dr Sarangapani specialises in eyelid and facial restorative treatments, offering an empathetic approach to each of her clients.
OCL Vision is the only surgeon-owned, comprehensive private eye care group in England. With OCL Vision surgeons operating in dedicated clinics in London and Elstree, Hertfordshire, patients can access world-class eye care closer to home with a specialist consultant who has dedicated their career to a specific branch of Ophthalmology.
OCL Vision’s clinics on New Cavendish Street in central London and at Elstree’s Centennial Park provide a wide range of eye-related surgical procedures, including cataract surgery, LASIK and LASEK laser eye surgery, refractive lens exchange surgery, as well as other types of surgical vision correction techniques.
If you suffer from eyelid laxity or suspect you might have the condition and would like to discuss potential treatment options, make an enquiry or call on 0203 993 4268
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