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Corneal Ulceration in Dogs

By: Dr. Rhea Morgan

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Related Symptoms or Diseases

Your veterinarian is usually able to diagnose corneal ulceration with a thorough examination and application of a fluorescein dye to your dog's cornea. However, discovering the cause of the ulceration and checking for related ocular abnormalities can be challenging. The following conditions may be causes or effects of the corneal ulcer.

  • Eyelash abnormalities. Extra eyelashes (distichia) and/or misdirected eyelashes (ectopic cilia) may cause corneal ulcers, especially in younger purebred dogs. These eyelashes may rub directly on the cornea.

  • Eyelid abnormalities. Rolling in of the eyelid/s (entropion) and/or inability to completely close the eyelids when blinking (lagophthalmos) may cause or exacerbate corneal ulceration. Entropion may be inherited or acquired following injury or inflammation. Entropion causes eyelashes and or hair from the lids to rub across the cornea. Lagophthalmos may develop following injury to the nerves responsible for blinking and is occasionally inherited in dogs with flat faces and protuberant eyes.

  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca ("dry-eye"). Inadequate production of the watery tears or a deficiency in any of the tear film components can cause the surface of the cornea to become more susceptible to infections and environmental irritation. The tear film is a very important protective mechanism for the eye..

  • Uveitis is seen frequently with more serious ulcers. The pain associated with corneal ulcers causes inflammation within the eye. This inflammation is accompanied by the release of substances within the eye and subsequent uveitis. The uveitis usually resolves once treatment for the ulcer is instituted, but your veterinarian may also recommend specific treatment for the uveitis.

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