What is “Dry Eye”?
Dry eye or keratoconjuctivitis sicca (KCS) occurs when tear production is impaired, resulting in inflammation of the cornea due to drying.
The condition is very painful and will get worse if left untreated.
Dry eye can be caused by an immune related disorder which causes the body’s immune system to attack the glands which produce tears.
It can also be secondary to viral infections like distemper in dogs and feline herpes in cats or hormonal diseases like hypothyroidism.
Dry eye can also occur as a side effect of certain medications.
Signs to Watch Out For
- Red irritated eyes
- Squinting or blinking
- Dull eyes, lacking shine
- Recurrent eye infections or ulcers
- Thick discharge around the eye
Dry eye is diagnosed using the Schirmer Tear Test – a simple test which has been around for over 100 years and is used on humans and animals alike.
A small strip of special wicking paper is held onto the lower lid for about a minute. Tears will travel up the specially marked paper strip, giving an indication of tear production levels.
Vets will also look extensively at the clinical history for a patient, as well as performing a full health check, to diagnose any underlying issues.
Dry eye can be treated with medicated eye drops, with the aim to replace the tear film and stimulate tear production.
Patients may also need antibiotics or ant-inflammatory medications to treat inflammation or infection.
Whilst dry eye is a serious condition, if diagnosed and treated early before any corneal scarring can occur, the prognosis is good.
Lifelong medication will be required as well as regular check-ups with the vet to maintain your pet’s eye health.
If you suspect dry eye, or have any other concerns about your pet’s eyes, it’s important to book an appointment, so that diagnosis can be made and treatment can begin.