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Dry Eye – Dogs

Dry eye is a very painful condition that affects many dogs. The condition develops because the gland in the eye that usually produces tears, to keep the eyes moist, fails to do so and the eyes then dry out. It can affect one or both eyes and can develop at any age, although dogs over 7 are more susceptible.

Signs to look out for include:

  • a thick white or greenish eye discharge
  • recurrent eye infections
  • red or cloudy looking eyes
  • rubbing the eyes.

Dry eye can be simply diagnosed by your vet. A small strip of special filter paper is placed in the dog’s eye and the tear production is measured over a couple of minutes. If the tear production is not sufficient then dry eye is confirmed.

Dry eye can be treated with an ointment called Optimmune which helps the tear gland to become active again. Initially, this needs to be applied twice daily. Your vet will show you how to do this. Once stable, the condition can be kept under control. Treatment will need to be given for life and the medication is very safe. Artificial tears can also be used to help lubricate the eye but these are not usually sufficient to control the condition on their own. In some cases, treatment may also include antibiotic eye drops, steroid eye drops and sometimes systemic treatment dependent on presentation and complications.

If left untreated, dry eye can cause permanent damage to the eye. The top layer of the eye, the cornea, dries out and becomes inflamed. This is uncomfortable and can lead to more serious conditions such as an ulcer or inflammation to the internal structures of the eye or blindness. It is vital that any problem found with the eye is checked quickly with the vet. A sore eye can be anything from conjunctivitis to an ulcer. An ulcer can rapidly become very deep and can even lead to loss of the eye if not attended to.

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