Trichiasis is a deviation of the eyelashes towards the eyeball. It is most often found in older adults due to the relaxation of the eye muscles. This condition is annoying because it causes irritation and a feeling of sand in the eyes. Fortunately, it is easy to diagnose and treat quickly. Here is all the information you need to understand what trichiasis is and how to treat it.

What is trichiasis?

Trichiasis is a misalignment of the eyelashes that are deviated towards the eyeball. When placed this way, the eyelashes can rub against the eyeball and cause inflammation and irritation to the cornea or conjunctiva.

The cornea is the thin transparent membrane that covers the iris and the pupil. The conjunctiva is the membrane covering the eye's white part and the eyelids' inside.

Trichiasis is an eye problem that can be either acquired or congenital. At birth, a baby can suffer from trichiasis. But most often, this deviation of the eyelashes is linked to the relaxation of the eye muscles in older people. This is also the case with the appearance of entropion. Entropion is a condition that involves an eyelid turning inwards.

However, trichiasis should not be confused with entropion. In the case of trichiasis, the eyelid's position remains normal; only the eyelashes deviate.

Trichiasis can affect only part of the eyelid or the entire eyelid. The resulting pain varies from mild to painful.

What causes trichiasis?

Most often, trichiasis develops after several episodes of chronic blepharitis, which is an inflammation of your eyelid, making them red, swollen, irritated, and itchy. Trauma or injury to the eyelid can also generate trichiasis during the healing process.

However, aging, which causes the muscles of the eyes to relax, is the primary cause of the development of trichiasis in Canada.

Finally, trichiasis can also be a consequence of trachoma. This ocular pathology is frequent on the African continent and in other countries where access to water is problematic.

What are the symptoms of trichiasis?

Symptoms of trichiasis are usually:

  • Red eyes, during which the eyelashes rub on the eyeball
  • A sensation of a foreign body in the eye
  • Watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia
  • A decrease in visual acuity if the problem is not treated

What is the treatment for trichiasis?

The treatment for trichiasis is to prevent the eyelashes from rubbing against the eyeball. A healthcare professional's removal of the eyelashes is sufficient to eliminate the problem. Several methods can be used:

  • Removal of lashes with tweezers
  • Electrolysis, which uses heat or electricity to destroy the hair follicle
  • The use of cold to prevent hair regrowth by destroying the follicle

In the case of congenital trichiasis, the eyelashes may have to move back into a normal position as the child grows. In this case, lubricating eye drops can be prescribed to limit rubbing while the eyelashes return to their normal position.

If you have a gritty feeling in one or both of your eyes and your eyelashes are no longer pointing outward, make an appointment for an eye exam.