Cavalier King Charles Spaniel vision worsens
Q: We have noticed that our 11 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s vision seems to be getting worse and worse. She has had something the vet calls KCS or dry eye for several years now and for which she has been receiving ointment applied to her eyes daily to increase her tear production. His eyes also darkened, but there was no mention of cataracts or anything else that might compromise his vision. Are there any surgeries that could be considered to improve his vision? She seems perfectly content, but we notice that she sometimes bumps into things, especially when she’s not in familiar surroundings. Could the KCS affect his eyesight? Could something else be going on? Thanks.
A: Keratoconjunctivitis sicca or KCS is a condition most commonly found in brachycephalic or short-faced dogs, among which Cavaliers are often depicted. Also known as dry eye disease, early detection is key to preventing secondary complications such as corneal ulcers and even vision loss. In this condition, the normal lacrimal glands have reduced or no tear production, which causes the irritation and infection of dry eye in which the dog constantly rubs his eyes or squints, if he don’t close your eyes. Any dog with chronic eye irritation and conjunctivitis should be evaluated for tear production with what is called a Schirmer tear test as well as possibly glaucoma testing and looking for masses on the eyelids or eyelids. other possible problems.
Dogs with KCS also often develop corneal pigmentation which appears as a brown pigment on the cornea also affecting vision. This may be what your dog is going through. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done, including surgery, to reverse this other than maintaining the status quo with a good application of moisture to the eyes with medications like you are using, most likely from cyclosporine. This drug helps stimulate some tear production and adds moisture itself. If your vet has also noted changes in the lens, cataracts can be effectively treated with surgery, unlike lenticular sclerosis. Discuss with your veterinarian a possible referral to a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist to make sure nothing else could cause problems and for a more specialized evaluation, which will give you more definitive answers.
Dr. John de Jong owns and operates the Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic. He can be reached at 781-899-9994.