Trichiasis (Misdirected Eyelashes)

Trichiasis is a common eyelid abnormality in which the eyelashes are misdirected and grow inwards toward the eye.

Those inward-turning lashes rub against the cornea (the clear, dome-like window covering the colored iris and pupil), the conjunctiva (the thin, clear membrane covering the sclera, which is the white part of the eye) and the inner surface of the eyelids, irritating the eye. This irritation is commonly described as a foreign body sensation and can be associated with tearing and mucus discharge.

Common causes include eye infections, inflammation of the eyelids, and trauma including contact lens wear.

Standard treatment involves removal with forceps, which may only provide temporary relief versus permanent removal via destruction of the eyelash follicle or root. Permanent removal usually requires an injection of local anesthetic to the affected area and is done in the office using a microscope.

In some cases, such as trichiasis resulting from epiblepharon, your eye care provider may recommend surgery to reposition the eyelashes to correct the anatomical cause of the problem.