Chihuahuas tend to have eyes that are more prominent or protruding than other dog breeds so it’s not uncommon for them to develop the eye problem known as dry eyes. Dry eyes usually develops in middle-aged or older Chihuahuas and can occur in just one eye or both eyes.
Dry eyes is medically termed Kerato-Conjunctivitis Sicca (kcs), which means inflammation of the cornea and surrounding tissues from drying, thus it occurs when the glands of the eye do not produce sufficient tears.
In your Chihuahua’s eyes, there are two glands for each eye that provide various components of tears. If these glands fail to produce enough tears, the eye will become inflamed which can result in scarring, pigmentation of the cornea, reduced vision or even blindness if left untreated.
Common Symptoms and Signs of Dry Eye Include:
- Redness, irritated eyes
- Eyes appear dull. lusterless or dry constant blinking
- Attempts to paw at the eye
- Thick, green discharge
- Recurring eye infections or corneal ulcers
- Reduced vision
If you notice that your Chihuahua’s eyes seem dry or sticky and they have a hard time blinking after they wake up from a nap or a long night’s sleep, then there is a good chance they have a dry eye. If a thick build up of discharge similar to that eye sleep also develops after naps or sleeps, that too is an indicator that they may have a dry eye.
Dry Eye May be Caused by a Number of Factors Which Include:
- Genetic defects
- Inherited abnormalities
- Viral infections
- Autoimmune conditions
- Removal of the third eyelid tear producing gland
- Certain drugs such as medications containing sulfa
- Eye disease or trauma to the eye
Immune-mediated diseases that damage the tear-producing glands is said to be the most common cause of dry eyes. The Chihuahua’s immune system attacks the cells that produce a portion of the tear film resulting in a decreased production.
Two tests will be performed. The Schirmer Tear Test, which is a simple test that uses a special wicking paper to measure the amount of tear film produced in one minute and the fluorescein stain test, which detects corneal ulcers.
Options for treatment of dry eyes includes the use of eye lubrication or medications that will help to stimulate tear production, replace tears, and reduce inflammation and infection. These include drugs such as cyclosporine, topical antibiotic eye drops, artificial tear ointments and corticosteroids.
Gentle cleaning of your Chihuahua’s eyes several times a day with a warm, wet washcloth will also help your chihuahua feel better and stimulate tear film production.