Dry Eye Disease in Pets

Ocular surface diseases are disorders of the surface of the cornea, the transparent layer that forms the front of the eye.

Allergies, infections, immune reactions, hormonal deficiencies, injuries, abnormal growth, nerve damage, the environment, genetic predisposition and certain medications can decrease tear production or can interfere with normal distribution of tears. Identifying and treating the underlying cause is an important step in the treatment of this disorder. Ocular surface diseases can seriously impact an animal’s eyesight and quality of life. Signs and symptoms may include:
  • Red eyes
  • Frequent rubbing of the eye area with paws
  • Watery eyes
  • Tearing
  • Tear-stained fur around the eyes
  • Accumulation of secretions and/or debris on eyelashes, eyelids and lid margins
  • Evidence of pain or soreness near the animal’s eyes when you try to clean them
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is a scientific term for “dry eye”. Tears are vitally important in helping to keep the cornea, the clear outer covering of the eye that lets in light, healthy.

KCS occurs when tears cease to be produced in sufficient amounts or the quality of the tear film diminishes due to evaporation. This results in the loss of proper tear function. With KCS, the cornea is deprived of oxygen & nutrients, causing potential irritation. Infection may then set in, which can lead to corneal damage and possibly blindness if left untreated.

Many cases of keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) continue to go undiagnosed or untreated. Proper diagnosis and management can only be provided by specialized professionals, with the assistance of effective diagnostic tools and reliable treatment options. I-MED Animal Health is focused on providing veterinary professionals with the most innovative and effective products at an affordable price.

What causes dry eye disease?

Allergies, infections, immune reactions, hormonal deficiencies, injuries, abnormal growth, nerve damage, the environment, genetic predisposition and certain medications.

Why are tears important?

The surface of the eye is covered by a thin layer of tears which perform several functions. Tears keep the eye surface wet, allowing oxygen can be delivered to the cornea. The cornea is a living tissue that requires oxygen and nutrients, like any other body tissue, to remain healthy.

Other body tissues rely on blood vessels to supply these nutrients; however, the cornea has no blood vessels and it must rely on tears to allow the necessary oxygen and nutrients to reach eye cells.

The complexity of tears

Tears are a highly complex lubricant for the eye, produced by specialized tear glands. They consist of three layers: a lipid outer layer that helps prevent evaporation; an aqueous middle layer; and an innermost mucus layer that help the tear film spread across to the cornea. All three layers must be present and in balanced amounts for proper tear function.

When the animal blinks, the upper and lower eyelids, as well as the third eyelid, act as “windshield wipers” to spread the tears across the cornea and to keep it completely coated by the tear film. The tears then drain downward into the nose. There must be a proper combination of tear production and spreading to allow the cornea to remain clear and healthy.
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