KERATOCONJUNCTIVITIS SICCA ("DRY
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.
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
There are several forms of treatment that are used :
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