KCS (Keraconjunctivitis Sicca) aka Dry Eye

Got Eye Goopies?
Do you have a Cocker Spaniel, Pug, ShihTzu, Poodle, Boston Terrier, Cavalier or another breed that has discharge in their eyes? Do you have to clean their face daily, or multiple times per day? Are you concerned your dog has an eye infection or allergies? Are you sick of the “Eye goopies?” If you answered yes to any of these questions, keep reading.

Greater than 35% of our canine companions have a condition called Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (more commonly known and KCS or “Dry Eye”). It is a progressive inflammatory condition of the cornea due to a deficiency with the tears of the eyes. There are two types: some dogs do not make enough tears; others are missing a component, mucin, which allow the tears to stick to the eye.

So why is this important if the dog “seems fine?” Firstly, discomfort. Humans with “dry eye” compare their eyelids to sandpaper rubbing over their eyes. Secondly, KCS can lead to ulcerations of the cornea which are extremely painful. Over time the body will send vessels to the normally, non-vascular cornea to try to protect itself and then deposits pigment. This pigment obscures vision and can lead to blindness. It also predisposes the eye to cancer.

Signs of KCS that may be noted at home include thick green-yellow-white discharge, redness of the sclera (whites of the eye), dark pigment on the front of the eye, lack of “glossy” appearance to the eye, squinting or rubbing, or changes in vision.

KCS is diagnosed with one or two simple tests that can be completed at your regular veterinary clinic. The first test is a strip of paper that is placed on the inside of the eyelid for 60 seconds to measure the amount of tear production. The second is a stain that is placed in the eye to check for ulcers and also to look for mucin deficiency. In predisposed breeds, these tests should be completed yearly at their annual exam as part of their wellness checks.

KCS can be a very treatable condition with a topical eye medication when detected early. When detected late, 36% of dogs will not respond to treatment, which is why regular eye exams are so important.

Contact your veterinarian today to discuss the health of your pet’s eyes.

Written by: Dr. Nicole Hobbs Ford, DVM