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Trichiasis in Dogs

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Trichiasis is a condition in which hair arising from a normal site contacts the cornea or conjunctiva (lining of the eyelid). It is more common in dogs than cats, and is most often seen in young dogs. Trichiasis is common in the breeds of dogs with flat noses and prominent eyes, such as the Pekingese, pug, shih tzu, Lhasa apso and bulldog, as well as in the breeds of dogs that grow long hair around their eyes, such as the American cocker spaniel.

General Causes

  • Inward growth of hairs where the two eyelids meet near the nose, also called medial canthal trichiasis or entropion

  • Absence of a portion of the upper eyelid

  • Prominent nasal folds in brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds

  • Long upper eyelashes and facial hair

  • Secondary to eyelid trauma or scarring of the eyelid after surgery

    What to Watch For

  • Squinting or blinking
  • Tearing eyes – watery or mucousy
  • Blood vessel invasion of the cornea
  • Pigmentation (dark coloring)

    Diagnosis

    Generally, the diagnosis is made by visual inspection of the eye and observing hair touching the cornea and/or conjunctiva.

    Treatment

    The condition may be managed conservatively in some patients with medication alone. Other dogs may require surgery. Treatments might include:

  • Ophthalmic ointments (antibiotics/lubricants) to coat the hairs with oil and to protect the cornea
  • Surgical correction to remove the offending hairs
  • Closure of medial canthal (inner eyelid margin)

    Home Care and Prevention

    Administer all medications as directed by your veterinarian. Return for follow-up as directed by your veterinarian.

    There is no preventative care for trichiasis.

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