Inturned upper eyelid eyelashes can cause uncomfortable symptoms and even damage the eye in some cases, but relief may be as close as a roll of adhesive tape. A study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology studied a prospective, consecutive, comparative, nonrandomized, interventional case series consisting of 50 patients (100 eyes) with turned eyelashes and at least 1 of the following symptoms: tearing, itchiness, and/or sensation of a foreign body.
Inturned eyelashes affect the elderly, as the eyelid margins sometimes turn inward as people age. Other changes can occur at the same time, including eyelid tissue laxity, disinsertion of eyelid retractors, tarsal plate shrinkage, downward displacement resulting from the effects of gravity, and enophthalmos or orbital fat. In addition to foreign body sensation, tearing, and itchiness, eye pain is also a symptom of inturned eyelids.
Chronic lateral conjunctivitis, corneal abrasions, and lateral angular excoriation of the eyelid margin are ophthalmic findings that sometimes accompany inturned upper eyelid lashes. In the most severe cases, the corneal epithelium can become ulcerated from prolonged contact with the eyelashes, causing permanent corneal opacification or blindness.
Surgery not Always Possible
Surgery is the standard treatment for this condition, but it may not always be feasible, as in cases in which an ophthalmic surgeon is not available or surgery cannot be performed for some other reason.
Injured upper eyelid lashes are very common in Asian people. The researchers noted that Asian women often use tape to create a double upper eyelid fold, and they wondered whether a similar technique might provide temporary symptom relief for patients with inturned upper eyelid lashes.
The upper lateral area of excess skin and muscle was lifted, elevating the lax tissue taht caused the eyelashes to turn inward. While holding the excess eyelid skin upwardly taut, the tape was firmly placed horizontally across the length of the eyelid about 5mm above the eyelid margin. This corrected the overriding preseptal orbicularis.
Slit lamp examination confirmed that the intruend eyelashes were no longer in contact with the globe. No other treatments were used for symptom relief. Patients were told to remove the tape once it no longer held the eyelid up and to record the length of time the tape remained in place. All patients were seen for a follow-up examination 2 weeks after tape placement.
Comparative results indicate an effective decrease of symptoms while the tape was on the eyelid as compared with both before and after adhesive tape placement. Because surgery is currently the only option available, the use of adhesive tape as described could benefit patients with inturned upper eyelid eyelashes who may be unable to undergo surgery or when no surgeon is available to treat the condition.