Dry eye syndrome is characterised by not having a sufficient amount of tear film providing lubrication to the cornea at the front of the eye. This can cause both the cornea and conjunctiva to dry out, which leads to irritation and inflammation. Any dog can develop this condition, but it does seem to affect female dogs more than male dogs. It's not always possible to determine why dry eye syndrome develops, but it can occur as a result of any condition that causes chronic inflammation or due to a bacterial infection in the front of the eye. Additionally, if your dog has recently taken a course of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, their risk of developing dry eye syndrome will be greater for a short period.
Symptoms Of Dry Eye Syndrome
Dogs with dry eye syndrome tend to develop mucus around their eyes and their eyes may appear red or swollen. Excessive blinking is a common symptom of the condition, and this can cause scar tissue to develop on the cornea due to the friction caused by lack of lubrication. You won't be able to see the scar tissue just by looking at your dog's eyes, but this scar tissue can lead to small ulcers developing on the cornea, which you may be able to see. Dry eye syndrome can be uncomfortable, and this may make your dog irritable or withdrawn. They may also seem clumsy, which can be a sign of blurred vision.
Diagnosing And Treating Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome can be diagnosed with the Schirmer tear test. This test is designed to check the moisture level of the eyes and involves your vet placing a purpose-made strip of paper on your dog's eye. Once removed, the paper is analysed to determine moisture levels. Your vet may also swab your dog's eyes to check for the presence of a bacterial infection, and they will examine the eyes to check for damage, such as scar tissue and ulceration.
The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and restore normal moisture levels. Depending on what's causing dry eye syndrome in your dog, treatment may include antibiotics, corticosteroids to reduce swelling or artificial tear drops. Once your dog's eyes are sufficiently lubricated any ulceration tends to heal. However, if any ulcers remain, your vet may suggest a surgical procedure to scrape them away, which will ensure your dog's vision is clear.
If you have any concerns about your dog's eye health, have them examined by your vet to prevent unnecessary suffering.
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