Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, also known as Dry Eye Syndrome, keratitis sicca or KCS, is a potentially blinding condition that develops due to decrease of tear production in the eye.
The first signs of KCS are:
- chronic redness of the eye
- chronic thick, yellow-green mucoid discharge from the eye, especially in the morning
- conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva, the delicate mucous membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the front part of the white of the eye — the sclera, or inner eyelids)
Frequently, conjunctivitis seems to respond to antibiotic drops, but quickly returns when the course is finished. As the condition develops, mucous threads may be noticed on the surface of the eye, which move as the dog blinks, or build up at the bottom of the eye, near the lower lid. With time, some of the mucus can build up around the eye, becoming dry and crusty. Owners of affected animals often report a high frequency of the need to clean their pet’s eyes.
KCS progresses without proper diagnosis and treatment, leading to:
- keratitis (inflammation of the cornea, the transparent portion of the eyeball that is in front of the iris and pupil)
- discomfort and pain
- pawing at eye(s) constantly
At this stage, the cornea will appear dull and lacklustre. This is particularly noticeable if the dog is turned towards a light bulb or bright window – instead of seeing a clear reflection of the bulb or window, the reflection is indistinct and blurred (see photo at right). Dogs will often show signs of discomfort by squinting and rubbing their eyes, and corneal ulcers are frequently present at this stage.
As the condition progresses, the cornea becomes invaded with blood vessels, scarred and pigmented, leading to reduced vision and eventually blindness. These changes are irreversible.
Symptoms of Dry Eye/Curly Coat (DE/CC) Syndrome
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels affected with Dry Eye/Curly Coat (DE/CC) Syndrome have a congenital skin condition called "curly coat" or "rough coat" syndrome (ichthyosis keratoconjunctivitis sicca). Dogs with DE/CC typically display the following symptoms:
- Advanced KCS
- Unusually curly, harsh or wiry coat that is apparent at birth (as opposed to the normally smooth and silky coat most Cavaliers have)
- Gradual deterioration of the skin that results in seborrhea, (skin inflammation and excessive oiliness)
- Flaky and dry skin, particularly around the foot, which makes standing and walking difficult and painful
- Brittle nails
Below is a photo of Holly Poppet, who suffers from Dry Eye/Curly Coat Syndrome.
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