No more tears: Dry Eye in dogs

Posted by MyDogDoc on

Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis sicca) is a very uncomfortable condition of the eye in dogs caused by a lack of tear production.

  • Most commonly caused by auto-immune disease

  • Certain breeds are more prone to Dry Eye

  • It is a lifelong condition that requires veterinary treatment to manage and treat as it can lead to blindness

What is Dry Eye?

Dry Eye (also known as Keratoconjunctivitis sicca) occurs when not enough tears are made bythe tear glands in the eye. This leads to the surface of the eye (the cornea) drying out.

It is more common in certain breeds, such as Bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, Yorkshire Terriers and West Highland White Terriers.

What causes Dry Eye?

it is most commonly an immune mediated disease; a fault in the immune system causes the body to mistakenly attack and damage the tear glands.

Other less common causes include an infection, trauma, or a problem with the nerves supplying the tear ducts. Very rarely, hormone conditions like diabetes or thyroid problems, or certain medications may also cause dry eyes.

What signs should I look out for?

  • Recurring episodes of conjunctivitis(red, sore eyes, with infection).

  • A thick clingy yellow or green discharge s

  • Signs of discomfort such as blinking excessively or rubbingtheir eyes.

  • Cloudy or discoloured eyes

  • Recurring eye ulcers

How is Dry Eye diagnosed?

Your vet will want to measure the level of tear production in each eye by doing a Schirmer Tear Test. This involves placing a small strip of special paper into the corner of the eye to see how much fluid is absorbed by the strip during a minute. Although the test looks a little strange, it is normally well tolerated!

How is Dry Eye treated?

Treatment often involves administering medicated eye ointment to try to halt further destruction of the tear glands by calming the immune system. The sooner this medication is started, the better the outcome tends to be. It may take several weeks to work, and if it doesn’t work more or different medications may be prescribed.

Your vet may also prescribe artificial tears to administer to the eyes to keep them moist. Where there is secondary infection present, antibiotic eye drops may also be used.

There is a surgical treatment option called a Parotid Duct Transposition. This involves moving a duct that usually carries saliva to the mouth and connecting it to the lower eyelid so that the saliva produced keeps the eye moist. Even after the surgery some dogs may still need long term medical treatment.

What is the long-term outlook if my dog has Dry Eye?

Dry Eye frequently affects both eyes and dogs often need treatment for life. If Dry Eye is left untreated, it can lead to blindness and even loss of the eye. However, with regular check ups and working with your vet, dogs with Dry Eye can have a good quality of life.

Caring for a dog with Dry Eye can be challenging. The MyDogDoc vets are here to help, with advice or a sympathetic ear. Book a consultation today!

Artifical tears auto-immune disease Cloudy eye Conjunctivitis Dog Dry eye Dry eye diagnosis Dry eye symptoms Dry eye treatment Eye drops Health Keratoconjunctivitis sicca Lack of tear production Ocular discharge Red eye Schirmer Tear Test Sore eye

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