Has your dog been diagnosed with ‘dry eye’ or KCS? KCS is a condition in which there is inadequate tear production in one or both eyes. The most common cause is attack of the immune system on the lacrimal gland, the gland that produces tears. The reason for this is unknown. In rare cases it may be due to a problem with the nerve that supplies the gland.
The vet has diagnosed the problem by using the Schirmer Tear Test, a test that measures tear production. This test will be used to monitor the response to treatment and to guide therapy.
Inadequate tear production causes the accumulation of tacky exudate in the eye, irritation, pain and redness. Secondary bacterial infections can complicate the condition.
The treatment for KCS is life-long, but is usually successful. The most important part of the treatment is an eye drop to control the immune system in the eye. The most commonly used drugs are Tacrolimus and Ciclosporin. These drops should be applied twice a day onto the affected eyes. 1 drop should be dropped directly onto the eyeball, not the eyelids. The drug stings initially and your pet may paw the eye for a few seconds after application. This medication should be kept in the fridge.
Tacrolimus and Ciclosporin may take weeks to months to reach full effect and control the condition and initially a lubricant may also be necessary to moisten the eye and alleviate irritation. The most commonly used lubricants are Optive and Teargel. An antibiotic drop may also be necessary initially to control secondary infections.
Regular check-ups are vital to ensure treatment success and to ensure that your pet has comfortable, pain free eyes. If a secondary infection is present, a check-up may be necessary after a few days to monitor progress. Otherwise the tear production may need to be rechecked in 4-8 weeks to ensure increased tear production.