Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS or “Dry Eye”)
(This article is printed with the permission of the Animal Eye Clinic Veterinary Opthalmologists named below.)
Animal Eye Clinic
“Dry Eye” is a disease in which tear production is absent or decreased. This condition is painful because the cornea (clear, front layer of the eye) becomes very dry and irritated. If left untreated, loss of vision can result from inflammation.
Tears are produced from two major sources: the tear glands (located above each eye) and the glands of the 3rd eyelid. As the animal blinks, these tears are spread evenly over the entire surface of the cornea. Disease or destruction of these tear glands may reduce tear production resulting in corneal cloudiness and irritation. Many things can cause “dry eye,” including trauma, chemicals, infections, nerve degeneration, or immune-mediated diseases.
Cyclosporin is a new drug now available for this condition. It acts by stimulation the glands to produce more tears, however, the exact mechanism of this drug is unknown. It may take weeks or months to see improvement with this medication. In some cases, the treatment is never entirely successful. Even in the cases that normal tear production never returns with medication, you can still provide comfort to your pet and usually preserve some vision. In most cases, treatment must be continued for the rest of the pet’s life.
Surgical options may be considered if there is little or no response to medical therapy. An operation called parotic duct transposition involves redirection a salivary duct from the mouth to the eye to allow saliva to substitute for tears. This operation is not without complications and is recommended only after an intense effort has been made to treat the condition medically first.
Remember that your patience and determination are critical to your pet’s comfort, since the condition may take weeks to months to respond to medical therapy.
In addition to the medication prescribed, the eyes should be lubricated with artificial teardrops or ointment 6-8 times/day. Keeping the eyes moist decreases inflammation and helps tremendously in keeping your pet comfortable.
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Important: You should always check with your veterinarian for any medical question you have about your pet.)
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