Dry-eye or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is a common condition which reduces and eventually stops tear production. One in 22 dogs is affected and this figure is even higher for certain breeds.
What breeds are most at risk of dry-eye?
- West Highland White Terrier
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Cocker Spaniel
However, any breed, at any age, can be affected
What causes dry-eye in dogs?
The condition is almost always caused by destruction of the tear glands by the dog's own immune system. Damage to the tear gland is irreversible, and eventually it is destroyed completely. This means the animal cannot produce enough tears. Dry-eye is a painful and potentially blinding eye disease, and needs lifelong treatment.
What are the symptoms of dry-eye?
- Eyes red and inflamed
- Uncomfortable eyes - your dog may rub its eyes, blink excessively or keep the eyes closed
- Discharge from the eyes, seen in the corner or over the surface of the eye
- Dry looking eyes
- Pigment on the surface of the eye
- Frequent eye infection or defects in the surface of the eye known as ulceration (more than two per year)
Testing dogs for dry-eye
However, in many cases the eyes can look quite normal despite very low tear production, and on-going destruction of the tear glands. For this reason, it is important to test dogs showing any of the signs above, and to test commonly affected breeds regularly. It is very important to diagnose the condition early, as treatments are less effective in advanced cases and fewer changes to the eye will have developed.
Diagnosis of dry-eye is generally straight forward and is based on measuring tear production with a simple Schirmer Tear Test. This is a simple test which does not require an anaesthetic and the results are available immediately.
How is dry-eye treated?
Your dog must have treatment for dry-eye for the rest of its life, to prevent discomfort and undesirable changes developing, including blindness. Regular check-ups with your vet are an important part of this treatment.
Your vet may prescribe a treatment which prevents further autoimmune destruction of the tear glands (and so preserves their natural function of producing tears) and also increases the production of natural tears and reduces painful inflammation.
If you think your dog is showing any of the signs above or may have dry-eye, book a check-up now by contacting your vet.
For further information visit - www.dog-dry-eye.co.uk