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Ask Dr. Kara Your Own Question
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 17300
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My GSD izzy who is 9 years old has a slight eye infection,

Customer Question

My GSD izzy who is 9 years old has a slight eye infection, a little discharge of which I cleanse with wet cotton wool pads. How can I clear this up? thank you, XXXXX XXXXX
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name is Dr. Kara and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm sorry to hear that your girl Izzy has had redness to her eye and a discharge on and off recently.

She may be suffering from KCS (keratoconjunctivitis sicca) or dry eye. Dogs with dry eye do not produce enough of the liquid portion of the tear. This is usually due to their body attacking the tear glands that produce the liquid tear portion. As such dust, debris and infectious particles do not get properly flushed out of the eye and secondary infections are common. Initially tear production can be inconsistent, some days there is enough and other days there isn't, thus there may be a waxing and waning of symptoms.

Ideally Izzy should see her veterinarian to have her eyes evaluated and her tear production tested.

Now you can help her feel better by using artificial tears in her eyes as often as possible. You can purchase these over the counter at the drug store. If the discharge is yellow or green that signifies a bacterial infection and you can also apply Polysporin ointment to her eye three times a day for at least 7 to 10 days. You can purchase this at the drug store over the counter as well.

Long term we should use medications that allow the tear glands to start producing tears again, such as Cyclosporine or Tacrolimus, then the secondary infections don't come back. The sooner treatment is started the better success rate we have though so don't wait to get her tested.
Be patient when starting the medication though as it may take as long as 6 to 8 weeks to see the full effects. Usually we do see some improvement within 2 weeks.

Another possible cause of her trouble is a condition called Pannus, or chronic superficial keratitis. This chronic inflammatory disease of the cornea (clear outer part of the eye) is more commonly seen in shepherds. It starts as a haziness to the eye, eye discharge, small blood vessels extending across the eye and/or pigmentary changes to the cornea. Treatment includes steroid eye drops or other immunosuppressive eye drops like cyclosporine or tacrolimus. Artificial tears may help her be a little more comfortable if she has this condition, but they will not slow or stop the eyes from getting worse as this is a primary inflammatory process and if we don't stop the inflammation the disease will continue to progress.

Other possible causes of chronic eye discharge are abnormal eyelid conformation (entropian where the eyelid rolls in and hits the eye or ectropian where the eyelid is saggy and allows dust and debris in the eye) or abnormal eyelashes which rub the eye. These seem less likely for her as the problem is new and she is an older girl so you should have seen it earlier. Her eye should be evaluated for these predisposing conditions as well though just in case.

Best of luck to you and Izzy, please let me know if you have any further questions.