Trichiasis is a condition in which one or more eyelashes are grow inward toward the eye even though the eyelid is in a normal position. There are several other conditions that also cause the eyelashes to be pushed against the eye, but are not trichiasis:
- Distichiasis is a condition in which there is an extra row of lashes on the inside portion of the eyelid that can scratch the eye. When seen in children, another family member usually has the condition as well.
- Entropion is a condition in which the eyelid is turned in against the eyelid.
- Epiblepharon is a condition in which there is an extra roll of skin that pushes the lower eyelashes against the eye.
In trichiasis, none of the above conditions are present, and 1 or more eyelashes are misdirected toward the eye.
If trichiasis exists, a child’s eye can be irritated. This can cause tearing, avoidance of light, pain and discharge.
The treatment of trichiasis is to destroy the eyelash follicle(s) that is irritating the eye. Plucking the eyelash will only improve the condition until the eyelash grows back. Several types of procedures can destroy an eyelash follicle.
- electrolysis (hyfrecation)
- freezing treatment (cryotherapy)
- surgical removal of the follicle
These treatments usually require the child to be placed under anesthesia (put to sleep). None of these treatments are 100% effective. In some cases, the treatment will need to be repeated.