Dry eye in dogs -what you need to know

By Arbutus West, on Monday, October 16th, 2017

Have you ever gone on a road trip without wiper fluid? Trying to see through a dirty, scratched windscreen is
one of the most annoying experience in the world. Can you imagine if the same
thing could happen to your eyes? Well a lot of dogs sure can due to a disease
called dry eyes or keratoconjunctivitis sicca.

Dry eye up close

Dry eye up close

Our little furry friends come with the equivalent of a wiper, the eyelids, and
wiper fluid, the tear film. This film is composed of an oily, watery and mucoid
layer. The watery layer makes up the majority of the tear film and is produced by
the lacrimal glands and the third eyelid. The function of this liquid is to nourish,
protect and lubricate the outer part of the eye.
When there is a reduction in the amount of tear film the eye will be predisposed
to conjunctivitis and corneal scratching. This disease is referred to as dry eye, or
if you want to be very technical, keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Dry eyes are a very
common cause of eye inflammation in dogs; especially in the following breeds :
Chihuahuah, Yorkshire Terrier and Chinese Crested.
SYMPTOMS
– Discharge of mucus or pus from the eye
– Red and swollen conjunctiva (the tissue that lines the eyelids and the
outer surface of the eye)
– Excessive blinking
-A dry appearance to the eye

Looking like this:

Dry eye can be very uncomfortable

Dry eye can be very uncomfortable

The good news is that this condition is very easy to diagnose. After performing a
full physical and ocular exam your veterinarian will perform two simple tests.
The first test, called the schrimmer tear test, measure the amount of tear film
produced by the eye. The second test, called the fluoroscein test, consist in
putting a liquid in the eye, which will dye green any scratches present on the
cornea.
Dry eye can have a variety of causes but thankfully treatment is simple in the
vast majority of cases. The main focus of treatments is to stimulate tearing. This
can be achieved with a variety of drugs, even little artificial teardrops! If there
are little scratches in the cornea we will prescribe some antibiotic ointment to
prevent any infection.
So if your dog has red yucky eyes be mindful of dry eye; and remember no dog
should see the world through a mucky windscreen.


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