Eye Disease in Dogs: Common Eyelid Diseases

There are several diseases that can affect a dog’s eyelid. This article will summarize three of them, ectropion, entropion, and distichiasis.

Eye Disease in Dogs: Ectropion

Ectropion is defined by having an eyelid, usually the lower eyelid, which is too long and therefore

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Canine Eye with Ectropion on Lower Eyelid

droops and rolls out. When the eyelid rolls out, the inner surface doesn’t make normal contact with the cornea. This can result in excessive tearing, conjunctivitis, and even a dry eye due to poor tear distribution over the cornea. It is common in many breeds, and is sought after in some breeds where the long and droopy eyelids add character to a dogs face. Some examples of these breeds include basset hounds, cocker spaniels, and bloodhounds. While it is rare that ectropion will result in vision loss, it can cause chronic eye problems that will require repeated visits to your veterinarian. Ectropion can be easily corrected with surgery, where your veterinarian removes a wedge of the eyelid and thereby shortens it.  Rarely, a second surgery may be required if the amount of eyelid removed was not enough and the lid continues to droop.

Eye Disease in Dogs: Entropion

Entropion is a more serious eyelid abnormality in dogs where the eyelid rolls inward, allowing

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Stella, with normal eyes! Courtesy of www.lasharpei.com

the eyelashes to rub on the surface of the cornea. This results in pain, ulceration of the cornea, and eventually can lead to blindness. It occurs in many breeds but is most common in Shar Peis, Chow Chows, and Bulldogs.  Entropion is diagnosed early in a puppy’s life, and may require a temporary “tacking” of the eyelids so they don’t roll inwards. When the puppy reaches adulthood, a permanent surgery can be performed where an elliptical piece of skin below the eye is removed and the eyelid is everted, pulling the eyelashes away from the eye surface. Sometimes, a second surgery is required if there is not enough skin removed the first time. At the time of diagnosis, the vet will also examine the cornea to determine if ulcers or abrasions are present so that treatment can be started.

 

Eye Disease in Dogs: Distichiasis

Distichiasis is a less common defect of the eyelids where there are extra eyelashes that grow out

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Distichiasis in a Dog. Courtesy of Dr. Cecil Moore

of the eyelid margin. Sometimes these hairs are coarse and long, and irritate the cornea. Dogs with this condition will blink more frequently, and have excessive tearing. Your vet can diagnose this condition easily using magnification. Treatment involves permanent removal of the offending lashes, using cryosurgery or electrolysis. The hairs can be plucked but will regrow so this is only a temporary solution.

What You Can Do!

If you suspect that your dog has any of the above disorders, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.  After a thorough exam, your vet will determine the best course of treatment. If the condition is severe and your vet does not feel comfortable performing the needed surgery, he or she may refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist who can perform repair and get your dog’s eyes back to health.

Click here to learn about another common disease of the eye, Cherry Eye.

Click here to learn about cataracts in the eye.

Click here to learn about keratoconjunctivitis-sicca.

Click here to learn about glaucoma.

Click here to learn about anterior uveitis, or Golden Retriever Uveitis.

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Dr Jill Christofferson

Jill Christofferson, DVM is an experienced veterinary general practitioner. Her professional interests include ophthalmology, dentistry, and reproduction.

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