Common Types of Eyelid Lesions
One of the thinnest expanses of skin on the human body is vital to the wellbeing of the eye, yet few people consider the health of the eyelid. Lesions that occur on this sensitive area may not typically be life threatening, but can be irritating and sometimes painful.
Anatomy of an eyelid
The eyelid, as simple as it may seem, actually has quite an intricate composition. It consists of a layer of skin on the outside with muscles called the orbicularis oculi and the levator; the tarsus is the inner and edge part of the eyelid where the conjunctiva is also placed. When the orbicularis oculi muscle contracts, the eyelid closes; it reopens again with the contraction of the levator muscle. Of course, both muscles work in coordination with nerves and other minor muscles. This process of closing and opening is referred to as blinking, and serves to distribute fluid over the surface of the eyeball. The same fluid is eliminated by the same movements of the eyelid.
Due to the intimate proximity of the eyelid to the incredibly sensitive eyeball, any type of issue that affects the eyelid will eventually have a negative effect on the eye itself if it goes untreated. Irritation of the lid may result in swelling, redness and burning or itching, which in turn can cause tearing of the eye and painful sensations.
There are several types of problems that can occur on the eyelid, most of which are not serious issues and are easily treated. A lesion is any abnormal change of a body part, including skin and can be caused by disease or an injury. Any type of lesion is a potential cause for concern and must be examined to ensure that it is not something more serious. The most common of eyelid problems are:
Blepharitis. When the edges of the eyelid become inflamed, the condition is called blepharitis. Normally caused by bacteria or a glandular disorder, symptoms can include burning, itching, tearing and a crusty substance that accumulates along the edges of the eyelid. There may be the sensation of having something lodged in the eye. The best method of treating this condition is to keep the eye clean using a gentle soap and warm water. An antibiotic can be applied before bedtime, or antibiotic eyedrops.
- Chalazion. A small lump that emerges within the eyelid, a chalazion is often the result of a glandular obstruction in which the contents of the gland seep out into the soft tissues of the eyelid. The reaction that follows creates the lump, which can develop into infectious tissue if untreated. Warm compresses can generally reduce the chalazion, but when this treatment proves unsuccessful, it may need to be surgically drained.
- Seborrheic keratoses are eyelid lesions that are typically found on the elderly. While not harmful, they can become irritated through blinking. When this occurs, surgical removal is possible.
- Skin tags frequently occur on the eyelids, and are simply small outgrowths of skin. Harmless protrusions, they are able to be surgically removed if desired.
Less frequently, there is also the possibility that lesions are more serious; malignant in nature. Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, sebaceous carcinoma and melanoma are all examples of cancerous lesions on the eyelid. Treatment will vary according to the advancement of the disease on the individual, but may include surgery, radiation or cryotherapy.
An eyelid may not appear to have such an important task, yet one of our most precious organs fully depends on this thin expanse of skin to keep the eyeball clean and protected. This fact does not keep the eyelid from being affect by lesions of various types, however. Getting the proper care for any eyelid lesions will maintain the health of the eyelid and the eye itself.