Dry Eye

What is it?

Keratconjunctivits sicca KCS is one of the most common eye problems seen in dogs.

Dry eye is when there are not enough natural tears produced. This is because of damage to the tear ducts by the body’s immune system – the damage to the tear ducts is not repairable and if left untreated the tear duct will become completely destroyed and your pet will not be able to produce tears at all – leaving your pet with a very ‘dry eye’. This condition is very painful and can lead to blindness when not treated due to the damage caused to the eye from lack of tears.

Dry eye is a lifelong problem it will not ‘get better’ with just a course of treatment, medication will be lifelong. The earlier the diagnosis the better – the greater the chance of saving your pets sight!

Dry eye can affect any breed, at any age – it is not just an ‘old dog problem’ so it is best to know the signs and act on them. However, some breeds are more prone to the disease.

The Signs

  • Uncomfortable eyes – your dog may blink excessively, rub the eyes or hold the eyes closed
  • Eyes red and inflamed
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Dry looking eyes
  • Frequent conjunctivitis, eye infections or corneal ulcers
  • Dark pigment on the surface of the eyes
  • Prominent blood vessels on the surface of the eyes


Diagnosis of Dry Eye is very – it takes only 60seconds! (with co-operation from your pet)

The vet measures your dog’s tear production using a Schirmer Tear Test. A special strip of paper is placed in the eye which measures tear production and the results are immediate. It shouldn’t be uncomfortable for your pet – they usually just don’t like sitting still for that long.

Both eyes should be tested as the results are often quite different.

The results of the test are interpreted with other findings, such as clinical signs, to determine whether Dry Eye is present. If your dog has Dry Eye, they are not producing sufficient tears and should start treatment immediately.


If diagnosed, it is important to treat Dry Eye, even if the eye looks fairly normal to you – destruction of the tear glands will be ongoing. The sooner the treatment is started, the better.

Treatment of Dry Eye is usually with a ciclosporin eye preparation, you are treating the disease process, increasing natural tear production and making your dog’s eyes more comfortable. The ointment is usually applied twice a day.

Sometimes, depending on severity of the condition on presentation – the Vet may also prescribe artificial tears to make your dog more comfortable.

Dry Eye needs lifelong treatment to control the underlying disease process, with correct treatment dry eye can be successfully managed long term.

Regular check ups with the vet are an important part of this treatment. It is vital that the tear production is monitored regularly to ensure the condition is being adequately managed.

Dogs with Dry eye are more susceptible to eye infections and they may even be present with one at the initial consultation. In which case extra treatment will be given to get the infection under control.