How Ectropion Affects Dogs
Clinical signs of ectropion are usually obvious to owners. The most common sign is a pronounced droopy lower eyelid. Affected dogs also commonly have watery eyes, swollen or red conjunctiva, facial staining from tear overflow, ocular inflammation and/or eye infections. Since ectropion by definition causes the sensitive lining of the eyelid to be exposed to environmental conditions, bacterial eye infections are common in dogs with this disorder. A condition known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (“KCS" or “dry eye”) often accompanies ectropion, because tears do not coat the eyes long enough to moisten them. Signs of ectropion frequently seem to improve, only to reappear at a later date. Signs associated with severe cases normally do not wax and wane and will not improve without treatment.
Symptoms of Ectropion
Ectropion can show up in dogs of any age or gender, but has a definite genetic predisposition in certain breeds - St. Bernards, Great Danes, Bloodhounds, Bullmastiffs, Newfoundlands and some other spaniels, hounds and retrievers. It is especially common in any breed with loose facial skin. Ectropion can also be acquired, such as from eyelid trauma, inflamed eyelids from foreign bodies or infection, corneal ulceration, marked weight loss or loss of facial muscle tone around the eyes due to old age and the accompanying increased laxity (looseness) of the skin. Developmental or inherited ectropion most frequently is seen in dogs younger than one year of age. Acquired ectropion can be seen at any age but is more common in older dogs.
Clinical signs of ectropion are usually quite obvious. They range from mild (slight drooping of the lower eyelid), to moderate (drooping eyelids with tearing and some conjunctival redness from irritation), to severe. Severe ectropion usually involves facial staining caused by abnormally poor drainage of tears, causing them to spill onto the face. This leads to excessive dark or sometimes pink-ish stains running from the dog’s eyes down its face. Since ectropion by definition causes the sensitive inner lining of the eyelid to be exposed to environmental conditions, bacterial eye infections are more common in dogs with this disorder. A condition known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (“KCS or “dry eye”) can accompany ectropion, because tears do not stay in the eyes long enough to moisten them. Owners may also notice that their dog cannot close its eyelids completely.
Symptoms of mild to moderate ectropion may appear to improve, only to reappear at a later date - especially during the spring and summer months, when allergies are more prevalent. Signs associated with severe cases normally do not wax and wane and will not improve without treatment.