Updated on  February 21, 2024
5 min read

What is Distichiasis (Double Eyelashes)?

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Distichiasis refers to extra eyelashes that grow in the wrong place. You may have only a few extra lashes or an extra row of eyelashes that grow alongside your normal lashes.5

These extra eyelashes tend to be thinner than regular lashes. They are also generally shorter and softer than your other eyelashes.5

If you have two rows of eyelashes, you may notice that some grow in different directions. If they grow inward, this is a condition called trichiasis. Trichiasis can cause eye irritation, pain, and infections, which can cause vision issues if left untreated.5

Medical illustration shows the comparison between a normal eye and one affected by distichiasis

A double row of eyelashes can be uncomfortable, but they’re not always a cause for concern.

Here are some of the causes and risks of distichiasis, as well as some treatments and preventative measures to consider.

Signs and Symptoms of Double Eyelashes

The most obvious sign of double eyelashes is extra hair follicles with lashes above or below your regular lash line.

The symptoms of double eyelashes may vary depending on how many extra eyelashes you have, the texture of your lash hair, and the direction in which your lashes grow.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of distichiasis:5

  • Extra eyelashes above or below your normal lashes
  • A thick lash line
  • Red eyes
  • Eye irritation
  • Eye pain
  • Irritated eyelids
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye inflammation
  • Bacterial infection of the eye
  • Vision loss (in extreme cases) 

If these symptoms go without treatment for too long, they can lead to more serious damage. Vision impairment is rare but possible.

Causes and Risk Factors for Distichiasis

Distichiasis may be congenital (you are born with it), or it can occur later in life. There are several possible causes of and risk factors for distichiasis.

Beyond congenital distichiasis, here are some of the most popular reasons for double lashes later in life.

1. Blepharitis

Blepharitis is a common eye condition that can cause swelling of the eyelids. It can also affect the lash follicles on your lids, which may affect your eyelashes.1

2. Certain Autoimmune Diseases

Some autoimmune diseases can be a risk factor for double lashes, like Stevens-Johnson syndrome. This serious disease causes the skin to peel during allergic reactions. It can also affect your lash growth.7

Ocular cicatricial pemphigoid is another autoimmune disorder. It’s a type of conjunctivitis that can cause scarring and affect the hair follicles along your lash line.6

3. Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

The Meibomian glands lubricate your eyes. Dysfunction of these glands can cause several symptoms, from dry eye to distichiasis.3

4. Ocular Rosacea

Ocular rosacea is a common condition (especially for people with skin rosacea) that can cause eye inflammation and irritation. It can also affect your eyelashes.2

5. Lymphedema Distichiasis Syndrome

Lymphedema distichiasis syndrome causes serious swelling and puffiness of the limbs. It mostly affects the legs and feet. People with this syndrome also tend to grow an extra set of eyelashes.4

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How Is Distichiasis Diagnosed?

Only your doctor can diagnose you with distichiasis. An eye doctor can perform an eye exam using a slit-lamp test to examine your eyes under a microscope closely. This will allow them to see any extra hair follicles and double hairs that may be very light.

Treatment for Double Eyelashes

Treatment for distichiasis depends on your case, but there are many options. Here are some of the ways to treat double eyelashes.5

  • Epilation. This is a method of plucking out the lashes that grow above or below your regular lash line. However, eyelashes tend to grow back after about 3 months, so this treatment is not permanent.
  • Electrolysis. This treatment destroys the hair follicles from which your extra lashes grow, preventing them from regrowing.
  • Cryoablation. A very cold gas freezes abnormal cells—the extreme cold can destroy hair follicles that cause extra lash growth.
  • Bandage contact lens. This is a treatment for the eyes that protects the cornea from irritable eyelashes and can help heal any damage caused by extra lashes.
  • Lid splitting surgery. Surgery may be an option for severe cases. It involves making an incision near your lash line to remove them.

To treat any infections caused by distichiasis, an eye care doctor may also prescribe antibiotic eye drops.

Home Remedies for Double Eyelashes

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take at home to relieve any irritation or pain you may feel from double eyelashes.

Here are some at-home remedies for treating your eyes and the surrounding skin.

  • Use warm compresses on your eyes.
  • Flush irritated eyes with over-the-counter eye drops (or eye drops prescribed by your doctor).
  • Use a lubricating eye ointment on your eyes to alleviate irritation from extra lashes.

When Should You See a Doctor? 

Professional treatment may be necessary if your double lashes cause corneal abrasion or affect your vision. Talk to your eye doctor about the treatment options available to you. 

While surgery may not be necessary, plenty of treatments can offer temporary or even permanent relief.

Can You Prevent Distichiasis?

You cannot prevent some causes of distichiasis, such as naturally occurring distichiasis. Some people are just born with two sets of eyelashes or extra eyelashes along their eyelids.

You can prevent some causes of distichiasis. For example, you can prevent distichiasis caused by bacterial infections by keeping your hands and eyes clean. 

Outlook

Leaving distichiasis untreated may be fine, but if it causes you issues, it may lead to even more eye problems.

The outlook is positive for distichiasis. There are plenty of effective treatment options from which to choose.

Summary

Distichiasis is not necessarily a serious condition, but it can cause discomfort. Over time, that discomfort can cause vision impairment if left untreated.

Depending on the severity of your abnormal eyelashes, there are many treatment options to explore. You can also practice at-home remedies for temporary treatment to relieve some of your symptoms and prevent further issues like infections.

Updated on  February 21, 2024
7 sources cited
Updated on  February 21, 2024
  1. Blepharitis.” National Eye Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  2. Boyd, Kierstan. “Ocular Rosacea.” American Academy of Ophthalmology.
  3. Chhadva, Priyanka, et al. “Meibomian Gland Disease: The Role of Gland Dysfunction in Dry Eye Disease.” Ophthalmology, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  4. Lymphedema-Distichiasis Syndrome.” National Organization for Rare Disorders.
  5. Singh, Swati. “Distichiasis: An Update on Etiology, Treatment and Outcomes.” Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  6. Stan, Cristina, et al. “Ocular Cicatricial Pemphigoid.” Romanian Journal of Ophthalmology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2020.
  7. Stevens Johnson’s Syndrome.” NHS Choices, NHS.
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.