Treating My Dogs Dry Eyes
How can your treat Dry Eye?
Unfortunately, while some cases of keratoconjunctivitis sicca can be cured, there is no one-size fits all cure for it.
However, the good news is that the condition can usually be very successfully managed:
There are three types of long term medical treatment for KCS:
- artificial tears, used to wet the eye, and
- drugs which are used to stimulate tear production.
- Natural, Homeopathic remedies
1. Artificial tears
These preparations are slightly viscous drops that wet the eye, rather than dropping instantly away like water would. The problem with these artificial tears is that they have to be applied to the eye very frequently to be successful. Typically this means every 2 hours (!!), although more frequently is desirable if it is at all possible. There are a number of brands available, including Viscotears, Hypromellose and Lacrilube.
2. Drugs used to stimulate tear production
-Pilocarpine – This drug is given orally to stimulate tear production by the tear glands. It has proved useful when nerve damage is the cause of the KCS, but otherwise is rarely used nowadays.
-Cyclosporine A – This drug is marketed in the UK as ‘Optimmune’, and is available as an ointment that is applied to the eye usually twice a day. Cyclosporin A is a powerful suppressor of the immune system, and when applied to the eye acts to prevent the immune system from destroying the tear glands, without effecting the rest of the dog’s immune system. In very advanced cases, where all of the tear glands have been destroyed, this drug is not effective.
Fortunately, Optimmune is usually very successful in managing KCS, and an increase in tear production is usually seen within one month of the start of its use. The only problem with Optimmune is its cost: it is a very expensive drug, with treatment costing approximately $1.50 per day. However, before cyclosporine A became available, there was no really effective medical treatment for KCS. This drug restores natural tear production and is preferable to any other form of treatment, and in the vast majority of cases is the treatment of choice.
Tacrolimus (Protopic) – Often diagnosed if Optimmune stops being effective or fails to work. It’s a very powerful medicine and generally only used as a last resort drug.
- Artificial tear solution (The most popular brand is Viscotears, but there are many generic brands which are just the same) applied often during the day.
- Antibiotic ointment or drops if a corneal ulcer or infection are present
- Antibiotic-corticosteroid drops or ointment if inflammation and scarring are present
- Parotid Duct Tranposition Surgery if none of the above methods work.