Canine Dry Eye Can Cause Blindness if Left Untreated
Most people know what dry, irritated eyes feel like. Usually, we apply eye drops or find other ways to lubricate our eyes, which generally results in immediate, short-term relief. Imagine the extreme discomfort of dry and irritated eyes if your dog is the one out of every 22 dogs that develops canine Dry Eye. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), commonly referred to as canine Dry Eye,1 can lead to blindness if not treated properly. The early signs can be easy to miss, and, if neglected for too long, your dog may spend years with its eyesight slowly and irreversibly deteriorating.
Certain Breeds Are More Susceptible
While any dog can develop KCS, surprisingly one out of 12 dogs with preexisting conditions, including diabetes, hypothyroidism and Cushing’s syndrome, can be more prone to Dry Eye.2 These dogs have significantly reduced tear production3, putting them at additional risk of developing KCS.
Middle aged to older dogs and certain breeds such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, West Highland White Terrier, Shih Tzu, Cocker Spaniel, Pekingese, Yorkshire Terrier, Lhasa Apso, Pug and Bulldog are also more prone to Dry Eye.2
Early Detection is Key
Dry eye is a common canine eye condition, caused by destruction of the tear glands by the dog’s own immune system. Tears are essential for comfortable eyes and do more than just provide lubrication. Without tears, eyes become irritated, the conjunctival tissue around the eyes gets red, the cornea will turn dull, brown and opaque, and a sticky yellow discharge will form. It is possible that irreversible damage has already taken place by the time signs have fully developed.
Dogs experiencing signs of Dry Eye may rub their eyes, blink excessively, or keep their eyes closed. The dogs’ eyes may lose their normal sheen and not reflect light as well as they did prior to Dry Eye. Other visible signs include a “cloudy” appearance to the eyes not related to old age, discharge, and redness.
Fortunately, screening can help detect Dry Eye before there is irreversible damage to vision. Early screening and diagnosis of Dry Eye is critical to prevent potential suffering and blindness.
If your dog is at risk due to one of the pre-existing conditions and/or experiencing sore eyes or signs of repeated eye infection, make an appointment with your veterinarian for a screening that could save your dog’s sight. Screening by your veterinarian is fast and easy with a simple rapid test.
If your dog is diagnosed with Dry Eye, you and your veterinarian can work together to develop a plan to successfully manage your dog’s condition.
All dogs with a history of eye irritation (or conjunctivitis) and at-risk groups should be screened. Be sure to ask about screening for canine Dry Eye during your dog’s regular checkup.
For more information, please visit www.dog-dry-eye.com.
1 Pierce VE, Harmer, EJ, Williams DL. (2006) In Proceedings 49th BSAVA Annual Congress, 20-23 April 2006, Birmingham, UK. p. 561.
2 Sanchez RF, et al. (2007) Journal of Small Animal Practice. 48:211-217.
3 Williams DL, et al. (2007) Journal of Small Animal Practice. 48:252-256.