Exposure Keratopathy (Eyelid Abnormalities)

Exposure Keratopathy

What is Exposure Keratopathy (EK)

Exposure keratopathy (EK) is a condition characterized by damage to the cornea. In EK, corneal damage occurs because the surface of the eye has been exposed to the outside environment for excessive periods of time. Eyelid abnormalities are often at the root of EK diagnoses. When an eyelid cannot close completely, or when a patient isn’t blinking or able to blink as often as they should, the issue can lead to exposure keratopathy.

Diagnosing Exposure Keratopathy

Because eyelid abnormalities are inextricably linked to exposure keratopathy, the EK diagnosis process often starts with the eyelids rather than the cornea. An eye doctor will examine the eyelid to look for problems with contour and positioning. EK can be caused by ectropion (a condition in which the lower eyelid sags outward), entropion (in which the eyelid sags inward, against the ocular surface), or retraction (in which the upper eyelid pulls upward, and the lower eyelid pulls downward), or by other eyelid issues such as eyelid coloboma or incomplete lid closure.

The core problem in EK is there is not an even and consistent distribution of tears over the entire eye surface. The result is a dry eye condition so severe it damages the eye. When eyelid abnormalities leave a patient unable to blink, or render a blink ineffective, the cornea doesn’t get the tears it needs to stay hydrated and healthy. For this reason, eye doctors will always pay very close attention to eyelid abnormalities.

Sometimes, blinking can become less frequent or less effective following eyelid surgery or eyelid trauma. In diagnosing exposure keratopathy, an eye doctor will pay attention to this portion of a patient’s medical history.

Treating Exposure Keratopathy with Scleral Contact Lenses

At Miami Contact Lens Institute, we treat exposure keratopathy and eyelid abnormality cases using scleral contact lenses. Scleral lenses have been proven to help resolve eyelid issues and protect the ocular surface from dryness and exposure in the process. These lenses sit on the white of the eye (the sclera) and vault over the corneal surface. The design creates a chamber of tears between the eye and the eyelid, or between the eye and the open air.

The tear vault ensures the eyes remain hydrated, even when the patient is unable to blink effectively.

The lens shields the eye and protects it from exposure. Scleral lenses are extremely effective for preventing or rehabilitating problems with exposure keratopathy.

Tests have shown scleral lenses to be an effective treatment for EK even in cases where other treatment options—such as artificial tears, lid weights, and ointment lubrication—have failed to achieve results.

Schedule an Appointment with Miami Contact Lens Institute

At Miami Lens Contact Institute, we are extremely knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to treating ocular conditions with scleral contact lenses. We can advise you on the best option for your condition, fit you for scleral lenses, and provide regular checkups to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment.

If you are worried about an eyelid abnormality or believe you may have exposure keratopathy, schedule an appointment with our Miami office immediately.