While it is well known that millions of Americans suffer from dry eye, did you know that our pets can also be affected? Approximately 1 in 22 dogs have issues with their meibomian glands, but this figure can be almost doubled in Spaniel and Terrier breeds. Other breeds that are susceptible include Bulldog, Pekingese, Pug and Lhasa Apso.
Dry eye usually shows up in dogs that are between four and six years old, but has been shown to happen at any age. Poorly functioning meibomian glands and dry eye can lead to issues such as corneal ulcers, bacterial conjunctivitis, and even blindness if left untreated. There are a number of signs to look out for.
Dry looking eyes
Your dog may blink excessively, rub its eyes, or try to keep its eyes closed
Eyes red and inflamed
Discharge from the eyes
Frequent eye infections
Dark pigment on the surface of the eyes
Prominent blood vessels on the surface of the eyes
If you dog has any of the above signs, you should seek advice from your veterinarian. You should also tell your vet of any previous eye problems your dog has experienced. There are a number of tests a veterinarian can do to determine an issue. A Schirmer tear test can be done to measure how many tears are being produced. If the test does not reveal inadequate tear production, a specialist can help diagnose if there is an issue with the meibomian glands.
Treatments for dry eye in dogs focuses on increasing the quality of life to make sure the dog isn’t in pain. The most common treatment includes medicated ointment or drops that are directly applied to the affected eye(s). If dry eye or issues with the meibomian glands is caught and treated early, there is a good chance of maintaining vision and eye comfort.
If you have any questions about your pet’s eyes, make sure to contact your local veterinarian.