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Dry Eye and what it means for your dog.

Dry eye also known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, can be a very painful condition that develops when a dogs tear production becomes reduced. This causes inflammation of the cornea and surrounding tissues from drying. It usually affects both eyes and they will become dry and inflamed.

It is usually an immune related condition where the dogs immune system attacks the tear glands.

This condition cannot be cured but can be managed with a range of eye drops used daily.

What is dry eye?

This condition occurs when there is a significant reduction in tear production. If it is left untreated it causes conjunctivitis , corneal ulcers and at times permanent scarring of the cornea. In extreme cases the eye requires removal as it is so badly damaged.

The immune system causes the body to destroy the tear glands over months to years. Medication can slow its progression and help manage the condition.


- Thick, sticky often green ocular discharge

- Redness around the eyes

- Dog is irritated by eyes and they are painful so increased blinking and rubbing

- Cornea looks dull and lack of shine

- Eye can become cloudy

-Increased frequency of eye infections

- increased frequency of corneal ulceration.

Breed predisposition

Most cases are inherited and more common in the following breeds. If your dog has the condition it should not be breed from:

-Cavalier King Charles



- Yorkshire terrier

-Shih Tzu

- Lhasa Apso

- British Bulldog

- Pekingese


Book in an appointment with your vet, they will examine the dogs eyes and preform a Schirmer Tear Test, which is a painless procedure where small strips of paper are placed under the eyelids and monitor tear production. A normal reading is above 15mm per minute.


This condition requires lifelong management. Your dog will need regular check ups to monitor the condition and eye drops applied several times daily.

Optimune is the most common treatment, a ciclosporin medication which helps reduce the bodies immune response to the tear glands. It takes 2-8 weeks to reach full affect and is continued for life, usually twice daily.

You will also need to apply false tears to your dogs eyes several times daily, initially every 2hours until the condition is under control.

You must keep the skin and hair around the eyes clean and free from discharge and build up. The eyes will likely need cleaned at least twice daily using clean cotton wool.


Surgery can be preformed to redirect a tube caring saliva to the eyes the saliva keeps the eye moist. It can be quite effective but in some cases saliva can irritate the eye. Surgery is used as a last resort.

Eye removal

In extreme cases where the eye is not responding to treatment this can cause a lot of pain, and the cornea can become so scarred the eye is no longer functional and the damage is irreversible.

Eye removal may be the kindest option in these cases.


It can be expensive to treat, regular vet visits are needed and the eye drops can be expensive and are required for life.

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