Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca)
By Mayno Blanding, 2017
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca or “dry eye” affects many Bichons, especially as they grow older. As with other eye diseases, the first sign may be redness in the eye, along with a discharge, excessive blinking or closing the eyes. The discharge may be thickened and white, yellow or clear. Your veterinarian will determine what treatment is needed or refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist for a more thorough examination.
The possible causes of dry eye are numerous, but in Bichons it is most often an immune-mediated disease in which the dog’s immune system for some unknown reason attacks the tear-producing cells resulting in decreased production. A test called the Schirmer tear production test involves inserting a special wicking paper beneath the lower lid to measure the amount of tears being produced. It is painless, fast and inexpensive. Lack of tears can cause a corneal ulcer to form, and this can last for weeks often resulting in permanent scarring of the cornea and visual impairment if untreated.
Treatment for dry eye is long term and involves the use of prescription medication applied directly in the eyes. Surgical treatments may be indicated in severe cases.
It is important to take your dog to a veterinarian quickly if symptoms are noticed to ensure that permanent damage is not done to your dog’s eyes. Home remedies are ineffective and dangerous.
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