Dry eye (KCS)

What is dry eye?

Dry eye – or Keratoconjunctivitis sicca- meaning inflammation of the cornea and surrounding tissues as a result of drying.

There are multiple reasons why dry eye may occur – these conditions result in lack of tear production resulting in dry eye:

  • Immune-mediated – meaning the immune system is reacting inappropriately to the tear-producing glands
  • Systemic Disease – Canine Distemper/ Feline Herpesvirus – these are uncommon as these are vaccinated against.
  • Medications – long-term use of some antibiotics can occasionally result in dry eye.
  • Hypothyroidism

Clinical signs

Dogs and cats will have red, painful eyes. They will often squint and blink frequently and have a thick mucousy discharge over their eyes.

Often affected animals will develop corneal ulcers as a result of poor tear production protecting the cornea

Diagnosis is confirmed through a Shirmer Tear test – whereby a strip is placed on the surface of the eye and the amount of tears produced over a certain time is measured.

Are certain breeds more likely to develop KCS?

Yes, these breeds include:

  • American cocker spaniel
  • Bloodhound
  • Boston terrier
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • English bulldog
  • English springer spaniel
  • Lhasa apso
  • Miniature schnauzer
  • Pekingese
  • Pug
  • Samoyed
  • Shih tzu
  • West highland white terrier
  • Yorkshire terrier


Treatment is aimed at stimulating tear production and replacing tears as well as treating any existing infection/ulceration. This is via ointment/drops placed topically on the eye as prescribed by the veterinarian.