Eyelid problems in dogs and cats usually lead to irritation of the cornea as a result of hairs or masses of the eyelid constantly rubbing on the cornea. Irritation to the cornea can lead to corneal ulceration and infection. Signs include squinting, redness, discharge from the eye and rubbing of the eye. There are three common eyelid diseases that lead to irritation of the eye:
Entropion– This is usually a developmental or congenital problem. In entropion in dogs excessive skin folds around the eye cause the eyelid to fold into the eye. As you can imagine, this causes the hairs along the eyelid to rub on the cornea, leading to irritation and ulceration of the cornea. This in turn leads to infection, inflammation, pain and eventually, loss of function of the eye. Certain 'loose-skinned' breeds such as the Shar-pei, Pug and Bulldog are especially likely to have entropion, although it can be seen in any dog or cat. Treatment involves a entropion surgery called blepharoplasty to remove and suture a section of the eyelid to ensure that the eyelid sits against the eye correctly.
Ectropion is the opposite problem to entropion, when skin folds cause the lower eyelid to hang open, causing the conjunctiva (tissues around the eye) to dry out and become irritated. Blepharoplasty can be carried out to correct ectropion, although this condition is far less common than entropion.
Disthichiasis and Ectopic Cilia– Both of these conditions lead to stray hairs growing on the inside edge of the eye. The hairs are often short and sharp, and they rub on the cornea leading to similar results as with entropion. These hairs require removal under general anaesthetic, either with traditional surgery or cryosurgery.
Eyelid Tumors– Eyelid tumors in dogs are on the edge of the eyelid occur commonly in older dogs and may or may not cause irritation of the cornea. They can be malignant but in most cases, they are fortunately benign. If irritation and inflammation of the eye are present, the tumor may require removal under general anaesthetic.
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