EYE" or KCS
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Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (also known as KCS or "Dry Eye") is a
common disease in dogs, but rare in other species. It is caused by a lack of
tear production and can affect one eye or both eyes.
The disease is a lack of tear production and may be caused by a number of
- An autoimmune disease - the animals own defence system damages the tear
producing (lachrymal) tissue
- Iatrogenic causes - due to toxic effects of drugs including :
- Sulphonamide antibiotics
- H2-receptor blockers (eg cimetidine)
- Unknown (idiopathic) causes
Small breed dogs are most often affected including the Boston Terrier, Miniature
Poodle, Cocker Spaniel and middle-aged, female West Highland Whites are reported
to be particularly susceptible.
The disease usually affects one eye initially, but involves both eyes. Clinical signs inclu
- Thick, sticky discharge from the eyes
- "Red eye" redness of the conjunctiva due to inflammation and
increased blood supply (hyperaemia), and occasionally black pigmentation
- The usually clear surface of the eye (the cornea) becomes opaque , and
small new blood vessels grow across it. In longstanding cases there may be
black pigmentation and ulceration of the surface
- Affected dogs often cannot open their eyelids fully.
- Some dogs rub their eyes
ComplicationsSevere ulceration of the cornea can lead to rupture of the eyeball.
The diagnosis is confirmed by using a Schirmer Tear Test - this paper strip
absorbs moisture and so measures the amount of tears on the surface of the eye.
The strip is left in contact with the eye for 1 minute and a reading of over 15
on the scale is regarded as normal. Readings of 0-5 are diagnostic for KCS.
There are several forms of treatment that are used :
- Artificial tears (hypromellose, methylcellulose)
- Pilocarpine 1% - oral administration
- Corticosteroids - should be used with caution if ulceration is present
- Surgery - transplantation of the parotid salivary gland duct has been
successful in the past but has been supereceded by the use of
The prognosis is good in most cases, providing sever ulceration is prevented.
Long term problems
Chronic pigmentation can lead to functionally impaired
Updated October 2013