Improving Your Look

4 Things You Need To Know About Distichiasis

Normal eyelids only have one row of eyelashes, but some people have an extra row of eyelashes. This condition is known as distichiasis. Here are four things you need to know about this eye condition.

What are the signs of distichiasis?

If you have distichiasis, your eyes will be irritated. You'll feel like you have foreign objects in your eyes and your eyes may be red. Your eyelids may also be swollen and irritated. Upon closer inspection, you'll notice that you have a second row of eyelashes growing out of the inner rim of your eyelids. These extra eyelashes tend to be lighter and thinner than your main row of eyelashes.

What causes distichiasis?

Congenital distichiasis is a genetic disorder. It's classified as an autosomal dominant condition with complete penetrance. Autosomal dominant means that only one of your parents needs to carry the gene that leads to distichiasis for you to also have it. Complete penetrance means that everybody that carries the gene suffers from distichiasis and that there are no silent carriers.

Distichiasis can also be acquired later in life without any genetic link. This can happen if your meibomian glands are damaged. These glands produce a type of oil that helps to lubricate your eyes and keep your tears from evaporating or running out of your eyes. When the glands get damaged, lashes may grow out of them. This damage can occur as a result of chemical burns (like splashing a chemical in your eyes) or as a result of chronic eye diseases like blepharoconjunctivitis.

Is distichiasis serious?

Your extra row of eyelashes may rub against the surface of your eyes and lead to irritation. This irritation is uncomfortable, but it can lead to long-term damage. Your eyelashes may scrape the surface of your cornea, which can lead to scarring. Scars on your cornea block the passage of light into your eye, which can lead to decreased vision. If you develop corneal scarring, your vision will be hazy and blurred; in severe cases, total blindness can occur.

How do optometrists treat distichiasis?

Your extra eyelashes will need to be removed to ease your symptoms. The least-invasive treatment is plucking. Your optometrist will need to repeat this treatment every few weeks as your eyelashes regrow.

Epilation and laser removal are more permanent options. These treatments destroy the follicles of the offending eyelashes. In severe cases, surgical treatment may be required. Surgery involves splitting the lid to directly access and destroy the follicles.

If you think you have distichiasis, see your optometrist right away. For more information, contact a local eye clinic like Nevada Institute Of Ophthalmology.