The Delicate and Complex Eyelid

Did you know that the eyelid is the thinnest skin on your entire body? It is less than one millimeter thick – less than the thickness of a credit card. Yes, your eyelid is thin and delicate, but it is also a complex, impressive organ that protects your eye from harm.

Even though it is thin, the eyelid has seven layers and even contains miniscule muscles that open and close the lid – this can be voluntary (such as sleeping) or involuntary (blinking).  It is extremely important that your eyes remain moist. When the eyelid closes, it spreads a tear film evenly across the surface of the eye (the cornea).

When it comes to treating this delicate organ, there is little room for error. But what can go wrong with the eyelid? Some of the most common conditions are:

  • Ptosis – drooping of the upper eyelid.
  • Styes – a gland infection usually indicated by a red, painful or swollen bump.
  • Chalazion – caused by inflammation of a blocked oil gland. This is often mistaken for stye but it is a more chronic condition.
  • Eyelid tumors – Benign or malignant (cancerous) tumors on the eyelid are more common than you might think. They must be removed and assessed for malignancy by a physician.

Your ophthalmologist has been trained to diagnose and treat eyelid conditions. Again, there is little room for error when treating such a small but important organ. For instance, a tumor can be mistaken for a stye or a chalazion to the untrained eye. It is imperative that a tumor is removed as soon as possible by a trained physician. An untreated tumor will only come back and in extreme cases, can result in the loss of an eyelid.

Some ophthalmologists complete additional years of training specifically in the eyelid and tear ducts to become oculoplastic surgeons. These specialists treat a multitude of complex eye conditions including reconstructive surgery. Click here for a list of these types of conditions and treatments.  Click here to learn even more about the fascinating eyelid.

Without properly working eyelids, you would not only be extremely uncomfortable, but your vision would be in danger. Protect this small but vital organ by alerting your ophthalmologist to any eyelid problems.