Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) - also called "Dry Eye"
KCS or "Dry eye" is a common eye disorder that involves a deficiency in normal tear production. This deficiency may occur in one or both eyes and is most often a problem in small breed dogs such as Lhasa apso, Shih Tzu, and Pugs.
Pets with "dry eye" often have thick, mucoid, ropey eye discharge. In addition, conjunctivitis can give the eye a red, swollen appearance. In severe cases, the cornea (the clear outer surface of the eye) may develop tiny blood vessels or pigment across its surface which interfere with vision. Painful corneal ulcers may appear either secondary to trauma due to the pet rubbing at the irritated eye or a secondary eye infection.
There are many possible causes of "dry eye". In a majority of cases there may not be a definitive cause and these cases are called idiopathic. Idiopathic "dry eye" is suspected to originate from a disorder of the immune system, but this has not been confirmed. Systemic lupus, diabetes, thyroid disorders, adrenal gland disorders, and some medications are other potential causes of "dry eye".
Your veterinarian may recommend a Schirmer Tear Test (STT). This test is a quick, painless method of measuring tear production. A special calibrated test strip is placed in each eye and held in place for one minute. The amount of tear production is then read off the strip. A normal dog will have a result of 12 to 24 mm per minute. An in depth ocular exam and fluorescein dye test for corneal ulcers may also be recommended depending on physical exam findings.
Several different medications may be prescribed for your pet. Most pets with "dry eye" require life long therapy to preserve their vision and quality of life. Your veterinarian will also recommend repeat Schirmer Tear Tests or eye exams to monitor the effectiveness of therapy. Examples of medications may include: