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Dry Eye Syndrome

This is Spike. For a 3-4 week period, he had irritated eyes that had yellow discharge. His owners were worried he might have conjunctivitis. Spike had previously had an eye ulcer which is a condition where his cornea had been damaged.

To examine Spike’s eyes thoroughly, we needed to do some uncomfortable tests. So despite Spike being a very good patient, a muzzle was applied.

Some blotting paper was placed under Spike’s eyelid for 60 seconds. This is called a schirmers tear test. It is to measure tear production in the eye,

Spike’s left eye produced hardly any tears. You can see by looking at the eye that it lacks the glossy sheen of an eye with a healthy tear layer

When dogs do not produce tears properly they tend to protect the eye by producing mucus. This is why Spike’s eyes were irritated and had a mucus discharge. Dry eyes are also prone to corneal ulcers – which Spike had recently had.

Spike was given fluorescein drops in each eye to check for any damage to the outside layer of his eye – the cornea.

The dye pooled to the side and did not reveal any damage to the cornea.

Treating Dry Eye Syndrome

Decreased tear production is caused by a problem in the tear producing gland. This can be an autoimmune problem where the body itself damages the gland. We try to treat this problem

  • with special eye medication to try to get the gland to start producing tears again
  • plus eye lubricant that can be placed in the eye numerous times a day.

The eyes should be kept clear of mucus, and carefully examined if they become sore. Dogs with dry eye are more prone to corneal ulcers.

Spike was started on special eye drops and tear replacers.

One month later Spike had responded well. His schirmers tear test had risen from 7mm on right to 10mm and from 4mm on left to 15mm. This is still subnormal but much improved.

Three months later, Spike is going really well. He has his medicated drops morning and night. Spike doesn’t need the lubricating drops because the condition is well controlled and he is not getting any mucus discharge in his eyes.

This problem is likely to be life-long and needs to be managed for the rest of Spike’s life. His owner finds if a dose of eye ointment is late, Spike’s eyes are a little dry. But for now, Spike has glossy healthy eyes and is getting on-going repeats of medication from Pittwater Animal Hospital.

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