Several reasons play a role in wrinkled eyes, whether it is dryness, lack of sleep, or aging, and the list goes on. But for some individuals, the skin around the eyeballs starts drooping and sagging downwards. This is because of a condition known as conjunctivochalasis. The condition causes eyeball wrinkles, and it is the eyeball skin that gets affected.
What is conjunctivochalasis?
It is the sagging or drooping of the conjunctiva, leading to the wrinkling of the eyelid. The conjunctiva is the tissue on the eyeball surface. Individuals suffering from the condition, known as conjunctivochalasis, have a thin layer of skin under the lower eyelids. When the skin starts drooping, the cornea gets covered. In serious, untreated circumstances, it can lead to vision impairment. Eye specialists and surgeons diagnose the condition by checking the lower portion of the eyelid and also evaluating any signs of trauma or scratches on the surface area.
What causes eyeball wrinkles?
There is no one particular reason behind the condition. But it is believed that natural aging is one of the prime reasons. When a person naturally ages, his/her conjunctiva thins out and also stretches. This results in the sagging of the skin and thereby causing eyeball wrinkles. Prolonged exposure to contact lenses is also believed to give rise to conjunctivochalasis. This usually happens when a person is not careful wearing and maintaining the lenses, or sleeping on with them. Mishandling of contact lenses is the reason.
Another possible reason behind the condition is thyroid dysfunction. People suffering from an underactive thyroid might experience eyeball wrinkles. Furthermore, several studies reveal that more than 85% of people with autoimmune problems like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, et., also suffer from conjunctivochalasis or eyeball wrinkles. Furthermore, blepharitis is also a condition that causes eyelid and lashes inflammation, resulting in eyeball wrinkles, but treatable easily on early detection. It is also believed that regular and long exposure to make-up, eyelash extensions, and hair dye can also lead to allergic reactions and dryness in the eyes, causing conjunctivochalasis.
Common symptoms and signs
The symptoms are easy to spot. But the first signs are not noticeable till the condition becomes bothersome gradually.
Eye burning, irritation, and discomfort
One of the first symptoms of conjunctivochalasis or eyeball wrinkles is irritation and burning sensation. Several individuals complain of the experience like a foreign body stuck in their eyes. This feeling urges them to rub their eyes, resulting in further irritation.
Some individuals might feel excessive dryness in their eyes. The itchy sensation is caused by the sagging or drooping skin rubbing against the eyes. Dryness causes even more irritation and discomfort. When there is a dry eye condition, one blinks excessively. This results in further irritation of the eyes.
Blurry vision is yet another sign that a person can experience. The sagging skin on the eyelids can be irritating to the eyes. Any contact with the loose skin due to eyeball wrinkles can cause blurry vision, affecting the vision significantly in certain situations.
In certain cases, conjunctivochalasis patients might also complain of watery eyes. This might be because of the loose, saggy skin getting rubbed against the eyes and producing more tears to compensate for eye dryness caused by the irritation and discomfort.
When one notices the above-mentioned symptoms and signs, there is a possibility that conjunctivochalasis has progressed. Since the progression of the condition is gradual, the signs and symptoms might not be bothersome initially. If an individual notices redness around one or both eyes, has trouble reading or experiences sudden pain while wearing contact lenses, or suffers from headaches, consulting a doctor must be considered seriously.
Diagnosis of the condition
When one suffers from any one or more symptoms and signs, it is highly suggested to consult an eye specialist as early as possible and get a proper diagnosis. Experiencing eyeball wrinkles and other associated signs can be serious when left untreated. While assessing conjunctivochalasis, the eye specialist considers the following factors:
· The age of the patient
· Any use of contact lenses, if so, for how long
· The medical history of the patient
· The current medications
The eye specialist will also consider conditions like dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, allergies, tumors, etc., before making the final diagnosis.
Available treatment options
When an eye specialist is consulted, he/she will be able to identify the problem and determine the course of treatment depending on the condition and the stage of conjunctivochalasis. The treatment options are:
Lubricating eye drops
Individuals suffering from dry eyes due to conjunctivochalasis might get relief using lubricating eye drops. It is an effective treatment method as it eliminates the accumulation of mucous that leads to bacterial infections. The cornea stays protected from damage using eye drops. It is the lubrication of the eyes that matters and determines the healing process, and thereby recommended by eye specialists.
When traditional treatment methods fail to provide solutions and relief to the severe condition of conjunctivochalasis, surgery is the only option left. The best part about conjunctivochalasis surgery is that it can be done under local or general anesthesia. In the surgical process, the excess skin is removed, which is the culprit behind the redness, dryness, irritation, and pain.
Wearing eye patches at night
When the conjunctiva starts thinning, the patient will start experiencing dry eye symptoms. Along with the use of lubricating eye drops, patients are often recommended to use eye patches at night. It helps to fight against dry eye symptoms even better. Eye patches retain some amount of moisture during sleep, decreasing the impact of dry eyes.
Conjunctivochalasis or eyeball wrinkles can become worse gradually when left untreated. It can give rise to corneal ulcers and pain around the affected eye. Patients suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes experiencing eyeball wrinkles must be cautious with the eye condition. The underlying health issues can worsen the condition. Thus, it is suggested that one must consult an eye specialist the moment they start experiencing some kind of irritation, discomfort, redness, or blurry vision due to drooping and sagging of eyelid skin.