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Eyelid Disease

Various diseases can affect the eyelids, making vision difficult or altering one’s physical appearance. The eyelids are responsible for protecting the eyes. When working correctly, they spread moisture over the surface of the eye (keeping it from drying out) and act as natural barriers to outside particles. However, when eyelids do not function properly, they can irritate the eye and cause vision problems. The following eyelid problems are addressed by the oculoplastic surgeons at the Wilmer Eye Institute:

  • Ptosis – Ptosis (drooping of the upper eyelids) generally affects an individual’s line of sight. Caused by age, nerve damage or trauma, ptosis can affect adults and children and is treated surgically by lifting the eyelid.
  • Dermatochalasis – Defined as an excess of skin in the eyelids, dermatochalasis is typically treated by blepharoplasty. Upper eyelid dermatochalasis is sometimes covered by insurance if severe enough to block vision. Discuss this with your doctor at the time of your appointment.
  • Brow ptosis – Brow ptosis is a drooping or sagging eyebrow. Brow ptosis repair is sometimes covered by insurance companies and involves an internal brow elevation (browpexy), a direct brow lift or an endoscopic forehead lift. Discuss these options with your doctor at the time of your appointment.
  • Ectropion – Defined as outward turning of an eyelid (typically the lower eyelid), ectropion exposes the inner portion of the eyelid as well as the eye to the air, exacerbating the dry eye symptoms: blurry vision, tired, burning eyes, red eyes, red eyelids and sometimes tearing. 
  • Entropion – Defined as inward turning of an eyelid (typically the lower eyelid), entropion causes the eyelashes to rub against the surface of the eye. This leads not only to severe irritation and decreased vision but, if left untreated, to permanent scarring and vision loss.
  • Eyelid retraction – Various conditions (scarring, prior surgery, Graves disease) can shorten the eyelids vertically, which exposes the eye to the air and leads to decreased vision and irritation. This in turn affects not only the quality of vision but also the health of the eye.
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