Eyes, as dry as the desert, not only have many people, but also surprisingly many dogs. But unlike the biped, the cause of dry eye in four-legged animals is usually a hereditary autoimmune disease in which the immune system of the dog own lacrimal glands classified as “foreign” and attacks them with antibodies to destroy them. As a result, little or no tears are produced and the eye dries out, increasing the risk of infection, as shown by bright red eyes, swollen eyelids and purulent ocular discharge. Also, frequent blinking and light shyness of the animal fall on the pet owner. With the progression of the disease, the cornea swells, blood vessels grow, it comes to bumps and pigmentation and finally to the corneal ulcer and in the worst case to the perforation of the cornea and blindness.
Every 20th dog affected by the dry eye!
Today, it is known that one in twenty dogs will probably contract a dry eye. Particularly at risk are the following breeds: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Pug, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier, Bulldog, West Highland Terrier and Cocker Spaniel. In the case of representatives of these breeds, the dry eye occurs even more frequently – one in twelve suffers from it.
Schirmer tear test ensures early diagnosis
The lacrimal gland defects resulting from autoimmune disease can not be reversed, even with the best treatment. In order to prevent the lacrimal glands from being completely destroyed as the disease progresses, the early diagnosis of the dry eye is important. It should therefore be routinely performed with every eye infection even the most harmless, the Schirmer tear test in order not to overlook the dry eye in the initial stage or to exclude it as the cause of the eye problem can. The test is not painful – so it is not necessary to sedate the animal – and to carry it out quickly: The vet hangs a special filter paper strip in the lower eyelid of both eyes of the dog. After only 60 seconds, the strip is removed again and measured how much of the paper strip was wetted by the tear fluid and discolored. From values of 15 mm upward, the eye is healthy, all of which indicates too little tear fluid.
Only lifelong therapy protects against blindness
In order for the immune system to be permanently slowed down and the lacrimal gland to be no longer damaged, affected quadrupeds require a lifelong treatment. This is done with the only approved for the treatment of dry eye in dogs eye ointment with the active ingredient “cyclosporin A”. Due to its immunosuppressive effect, the aforementioned active substance stops further destruction of the lacrimal gland, stimulates the production of tear fluid and combats painful inflammation of the eye. The sooner the therapy is started, the faster the success will be. This can be documented during the regular follow-up examinations by the Schirmer tear test. An improvement in the Schirmer tear test is a good sign for a successful therapy. In most cases, after ten to fourteen days, you see a general improvement: more tears are produced, the greasy deposits go back, and the eye appears moister and clearer.
Use eye ointment properly
Before using the ophthalmic ointment, cleanse the eye with a suitable non-irritating solution; For example, boron water from the pharmacy or diluted and filtered cheese poplar tea is well suited. The cleaning of the eye must always be done from the outer corner of the eye to the nose. Twice a day, a 1cm long ointment strand is applied into the conjunctival sac of the eye. Important: Affected dogs must be treated with Ciclosporin Eye Ointment all their life; if the treatment is discontinued because “the dog is already doing so well anyway”, the tears are released quickly and a relapse occurs.
Do not confuse German shepherd keratitis with dry eye
Although the shepherd dog keratitis (keratitis superficialis chronica) is an autoimmune disease and in the course and in the symptoms of the dry eye is very similar, but there is a serious difference: unlike the dry eye, the body’s immune system attacks not the lacrimal glands, but directly to the cornea – The tear production is not limited, the Schirmer tear test is normal. The dog owners are usually the first to notice that opaque, uneven red spots on the cornea have formed in the corners of the eyes, which later turn gray-white. The cause of these patches is the ingrowth of blood vessel-containing granulation and connective tissue into the upper layers of the cornea. These gray-pink tissue growths affect vision. The shepherd’s keratitis appears to be race-related and occurs mainly in the German Shepherd, German Shepherd-Mischlinge and Rottweiler. The eye changes are observed from the second year of life and occur frequently between the third and fifth year of life. Without treatment, the disease progressively relapses, and in the final stage, the cornea loses its transparency through pigmentation. Since the German shepherd keratitis almost always occurs in both eyes, the affected dog can completely go blind. Also in the therapy of the German Shepherd Keratitis is approved for the dog eye ointment with the active ingredient “Ciclosporin A” the drug of choice. It is thereby suppressed further damage to the cornea by the immune system. Existing tissue growths in the cornea can be resolved with the eye ointment and vision can be stabilized. Just like the dry eye, here too: Only lifelong therapy protects against blindness!