What causes double eyelashes?

Double eyelashes are caused by a disorder known as distichiasis. It is a condition in which hair, or eyelashes, can grow from the openings of the small oil-producing glands in the eyelids. These glands are called meibomian glands. Another form of this condition is lymphedema-distichiasis. This disorder not only causes double eyelashes but is also associated with certain types of health conditions.

Distichiasis is also known as Blatt's distichiasis. The word Blatt comes from the name of an ophthalmologist who was one of the first to describe the condition in 1924. It is a disorder that is extremely rare and can occur regardless of a person's age, gender, or ethnic background. Double eyelashes can be hereditary or can occur as a result of other conditions, such as blepharoconjunctivitis. This is a chronic inflammation of the eyelids and the mucous membrane that lines the inner eye.

Lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome is another inherited form of distichiasis that occurs with the medical condition lymphedema. Lymphedema is a condition that causes swelling in parts of the body as a result of excessive fluid buildup. In addition to having double eyelashes and swelling, people with this syndrome may also have certain health conditions or abnormalities. These conditions are often directly associated with the lymphedema portion of lymphedema-distichiasis and can include heart defects, droopy eyelids, spinal cysts, and even type II diabetes. The late actress Elizabeth Taylor is said to have had double eyelashes due to this condition.

The two rows of eyelashes caused by any type of dyschiasis can appear on the upper and lower eyelids. In some cases, double lashes can only grow from the lower lid, however, it is rare for them to appear only on the upper lid. Often the abnormal row of lashes grow shorter and thinner than the normal set of lashes, regardless of the lid.

With both types of dysichiasis, the abnormal eyelashes may grow naturally or turn toward the eye itself. When they grow inward, lashes can scratch the surface of the eye and cause discomfort or pain. Double eyelashes that irritate the eye can be stretched out by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, although they almost always grow back within a few weeks. Electrolysis is a more permanent procedure that uses an electrical current to kill lashes at the root. Cryosurgery is another permanent way to remove the second row of lashes and involves the use of extreme cold to destroy the abnormal lashes.

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