Chronic eye-watering and irritation of the outer portion of the eyeball (cornea) may be due to inward-turning eyelashes. Abnormally positioned eyelashes can result from an eye infection, inflammation (swelling) of the eyelid, autoimmune conditions, and trauma. This misdirection of the eyelashes, a condition known as “trichiasis,” results in the errant eyelashes brushing against the eyeball. Left untreated, trichiasis may lead to corneal ulceration, which is a potentially serious concern that can lead to loss of eyesight in the affected eye. When there are multiple lashes growing toward the eye, the ophthalmologist may recommend surgery to have them removed permanently. If so, “ablation” utilizes radiofrequencies or lasers to remove the offending lashes.
P.S. Some cases of trichiasis are caused by “epiblepharon,” an extra horizontal fold of skin that causes inversion of the eyelashes against the cornea.