By definition, ectropion is a rolling-outward and “drooping” of all or part of the margin of a lower eyelid, usually with accompanying redness. Diagnosis is not difficult and normally is based simply upon the dog’s breed, history and clinical presentation, without any further testing.
However, to help determine the reason for the condition in non-predisposed breeds and in dogs with late-onset ectropion, veterinarians usually will perform a complete ophthalmic examination. This includes a Schirmer tear test, a fluorescein dye application, assessment of intraocular pressure and a thorough examination of the physical structure of the eyelids, cornea and conjunctiva. These tests are not invasive and do not require general anesthesia, but topical anesthetic drops will be used for the dog’s comfort. Depending upon the results of this initial database, your veterinarian may recommend advanced testing and/or referral to a veterinary eye specialist.
Routine blood work (a complete blood count [CBC] and a serum chemistry panel), along with a urinalysis (UA), may be suggested as well, although the results of these tests will not be diagnostic of the causes of ectropion in dogs. Testing for hypothyroidism also may be done, because that disorder can cause paralysis of certain facial nerves that show up as a “tragic facial expression” in dogs.