Eye ulcers in dogs caused by ectopic cilia. Excision by biopsy
Clinical examination of the eye
The correct diagnosis of ocular problems in dogs requires a complete and thorough examination of the eye and its adnexa, since akin to the rest of the animal’s organ systems, the eyes should receive routine check-ups and monitoring.
All ophthalmological exams must include some basic steps:1
- Collect and review the animal’s medical history and background.
- General examination of the patient.
- Hands-off examination: a study of the dog’s vision, assessment of the size, position and symmetry of the eyes, eyelids and face, any ocular discharge, the shape and position of the various structures and note any evidence of eye pain.
- Hands-on examination: exploration of the eyes by palpation and evaluation of the palpebral reflex, threat reflex or response and vestibulo-ocular reflex.
- Schirmer’s test: this is a quantitative diagnostic test that assesses the aqueous component of the tear film to check for tear production deficiency.
- Slit lamp examination: an artificial light produced by an ophthalmoscope is used to assess the pupillary light and dazzle reflexes and the state of other ocular structures, both directly and indirectly.
- Tonometry: measurement of intraocular pressure (IOP).
- Additional tests:
- Fluorescein test: fluorescein is a hydrophilic dye applied to the ocular surface because it stains the stroma in areas that are bereft of cornea or epithelium,2 thus it can be used to identify any alterations to the corneal, such as corneal ulcers.
- Corneal cytology.
- Culture and antibiogram.
- Ocular ultrasound.
- Magnetic resonance imaging.
Types of ulcers and their diagnostic significance
Eye ulcers are an extremely common process in dogs, and they show a breed-related predisposition that depends on the dog’s head shape.3 It is important to identify the type of each ulcer, as they require different treatments to achieve their resolution, as well as its cause, because if the primary cause of the lesion is not eliminated, then the treatment will have a poor outcome and the patient will suffer recurrent relapses.
Ulcers can be classified according to their depth or the layers of the eye affected, with corneal and conjunctival ulcers among the main types encountered in dogs. Secondly, the presence of any infectious agents that pose an additional risk in terms of lesion recovery must be taken into account, which leads to the classification of uncomplicated ulcers, when there are no infectious agents, and complicated ulcers, which course with microbial contamination.
Ulcers caused by ectopic cilia: excision by biopsy
Ulcers caused by ectopic cilia are produced by the mechanical friction of cilia growing from the palpebral conjunctiva towards the cornea.4 Some clinical signs in this disorder add to the pet’s discomfort and blepharospasm with increased tear production, redness and inflammation2, with remission mainly achieved through a surgical intervention to remove the hair follicle and Meibomian gland through the palpebral conjunctiva.
The sample included 12 dogs and 19 ectopic cilia were detected and removed using a 2–3 mm punch biopsy; the results were excellent and without a single case of recurrence.
A punch biopsy is a good alternative technique for the removal of ectopic cilia that cause corneal ulcers in dogs, with good results in terms of ulcer healing and remission of the associated clinical signs.
Further studies are still required to obtain more effective treatments in order to improve patient health and quality of life.