What are Eyelash Disorders?
Eyelashes normally grow from follicles in the eyelid; eyelash disorders are a group of hereditary problems in eyelash growth. Specific eyelash disorders are more commonly found in some breeds; see below for details. Eyelash disorders are typically found in young dogs, but can be seen later in life as well.Eyelash disorders are a group of abnormalities in eyelash growth that cause eyelash hairs to irritate or damage a dog’s cornea, leading to corneal ulcers, bacterial infections, blindness or loss of the eye.
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Symptoms of Eyelash Disorders in Dogs
- Change in iris pigmentation
- Excessive tears
- Abnormal ticking or twitching of the eyelid
- Corneal ulcers (part of the cornea will appear bluish)
- Pawing at eye
- Eye pain
- Discharge from eye
Eyelash disorders found in dogs include trichiasis, or in-grown eyelashes; distichiasis, or eyelash growing from an abnormal part of the eyelid; and ectopic cilia, or hair(s) that grow through the inside of the eyelid.Breeds Affected
- Trichiasis is most commonly found in Pekingese, English Cocker Spaniel, Bulldog, and Pug breeds.
- Distichiasis is most commonly found in English Bulldog, Golden Retriever, Pekingese, Toy and Miniature Poodles, Shetland Sheepdogs, Cocker Spaniels and Miniature Long Hair Dachshund breeds.
- Ectopic cilia are most commonly found in Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, Shetland Sheepdogs, Golden Retrievers and Dachshund breeds.
Causes of Eyelash Disorders in Dogs
Eyelash disorders result from hair follicles developing in abnormal locations, often growing towards the eye rather than away from the eye. While the problem is hereditary, there is no known cause. Having one or more parents with an eyelash disorder significantly increases a dog’s chances of developing one. This should be kept in mind when breeding.
Diagnosis of Eyelash Disorders in Dogs
Diagnosis of eyelash disorders is made through physical examination, as lashes growing from abnormal locations on the eye can be observed visually. If a dog’s eye is incredibly irritated, sedatives or topical anesthetics may be required in ord!er to allow the necessary examination of the area. Further, fluorescein staining of the cornea is often used in order to assess the extent of corneal injuries, if present, and to rule out any other cause of eye irritation from a possible alternative condition. A Schirmer tear test will be administered in order to measure tear production and determine if tear production is sufficient to lubricate the eye.
Treatment of Eyelash Disorders in Dogs
Treatment of eye disorders depends on the type and the severity.
In mild cases of distichiasis with short, soft eyelashes, dogs may not require any treatment. In cases of distichiasis where dogs are showing some discomfort and clinical symptoms, lubricants may be used on the cornea and lashes in order to ensure comfort and prevent injury; in other cases, the lashes in question may be removed manually, which is a quick and relatively painless procedure. However, manual removal (plucking) does not rid the dog of the lashes forever, and they will need to be removed again when they grow back in a month of so. Surgery may be required in order to remove the abnormal follicles and ensure the lashes do not grow back.
In cases of trichiasis, the abnormal lashes may be cut in order to prevent irritation; or, in more severe cases, surgical removal of the lashes may be required. For ectopic cilia, surgery is almost always the treatment of choice. In some cases, surgery can be performed by an appropriately skilled veterinarian; however, in some complicated situations, you will be referred to an ophthalmologist in order to ensure the best care. Surgery may involve removing the affection part of the eyelid completely, using eletrocautery, cryosurgery, or electroepilation to destroy follicles, or surgically remove the tissues in the affected area. Any surgery will require general anesthesia.
Recovery of Eyelash Disorders in Dogs
Follow closely the veterinarian’s instructions for recovery, which may include applying lubrication, eyedrops, eyewash, or washing with clean water. If your dog has undergone surgery, carefully monitor recovery. No matter the treatment of distichiasis, it is common for the eyelashes to grow back, so closely monitor your dog’s eyes for signs of regrowth.
Eyelash Disorders Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
All four of my cockapoos have lost their eyelashes. They are all going on 10 years old. Is this normal? They used to have beautiful eyelashes now they have none
Thank you for your help
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My Staffy has a few eyelashes growing the wrong way & causing her irritation, the vet I took her to said they need removing under anisthetic. At present this option isn't financially viable, can they be pulled out, I know they will probably regrow but my research is showing a lot of cases of this happening after surgery
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My dog has had ingrowing hairs for over a year now, he has had numerous surgeries to remove them including eletrocautery, cryosurgery and electroepilation. We are currently on our 4th round of cryosurgery. He is currently going back in for surgery every 9-12 weeks. Is this normal and ok for him to be having this much surgery or is there something else I should be requesting to be done or looked into?
Each case of distichiasis is treated differently depending on the number of hairs, length of hairs and the effect they have on the cornea of the eye. Treatment for mild cases may include using only a lubricant to minimise the effects of the hair rubbing against the eye; for more serious cases electrolysis, cryosurgery, surgical excision of the offending hair follicles or Hotz-Celsus procedure to roll the margin of the eyelid out to reduce the contact of the eyelashes with the eye. As I mentioned, the method of treatment used is different depending on a variety of factors; but these are the usual options. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
I have an American bulldog mixed with something but he as well had problems with his eye and the vet explained that his eyelid was basically folded inward and His eyelashes are causing irritation. He suggested surgery and wanting the best for my dog I decided to agree. He explained the surgery is cutting out circular small pieces of his eyelid, lifting it. The vet said from there on he should recover great, even after follow up visits but he still cries, scratches at it (occasionally when it gets irritated). It’s like it never healed or he did this surgery on my dog for nothing. Any tips? Maybe I can temporarily help him out at home, but I do not want to put him under anesthesia again. He’s about to turn 3 so he’s still my puppy in my eyes. Please help.
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