Keratoconjunctivitis sicca means drying and inflammation of the cornea and surrounding tissues. This condition occurs when the lacrimal glands or tear system stops producing the normal amount of liquid. This causing excessive amount of eye discharge sometimes called “boogers or eye gunk”. The discharge develops when the liquid/water portion of the tears is reduced and the fatty or lipid portion is still present creating globs of dehydrated tears that can not pass through the tear ducts in a normal fashion.
Signs of KCS include; painful, red, irritated eyes, squinting, excessive blinking, holding eyes shut, thick yellowish mucoid discharge, and corneal ulcer can occur as a secondary issue to poor tear production.
Physical signs or changes to the eye include; corneal scarring, hyper pigmentation, neo vascularization, eyes may appear dull or lack glossiness
KCS is diagnosed with a Schirmer tear test. The Schirmer tear test measures the amount of tears produced in one minute. Additional testing is often required to rule in or out other issues, including; fluorescein stain, Tonometry, tear duct evaluation etc.
Treatment of KCS requires topical eye medications often. Different medications have different purposes. Some medications are used to stimulate that pets natural and impaired ability to produce tears and other medications are used to replace the fluid that is not being produced. Some times these medications are required as often as every 2 hours. Depending on redness severity and any secondary conditions sometimes anti-inflammatory and antibiotic drops are needed as well.
Gently removing accumulated discharge 2-3 times daily or as needed before medications is recommended.
Surgical repair is sometimes an option and is only performed by a specialist, if your are interested you may discussed this option with our doctor and he can refer you appropriately. Surgical correction involved that repositioning of a salivary duct and is only available in extreme cases where medical options have failed.
Most dogs with dry eye are able to live a normal pain free life with medication protocol and monitoring.