Last week we dealt with the condition whereby the eyelids roll inwards and, as a consequence, the edge of the lids and the eyelashes rub against the eyeball. Well, the converse also occurs. There is a situation where the eyelids roll outwards, thus more readily exposing the eyeball (and the membranes surrounding the eyeball) to infectious agents (germs) and foreign bodies.
(i) Most authors link this condition to certain specific breeds as well as to specific genetic factors within a breed. Breeds like the St Bernard, Spaniels (eg Cocker Spaniel), certain hounds (eg Bloodhound) often have drooping lower eyelids. This is usually the result of loose facial skin.
(ii) Elderly dogs tend to lose the facial skin tone, and the loose skin pulls down the lower eyelids exposing the eyeball to irritation.
(iii) A facial nerve paralysis would result in the loss of facial turgour (tightness of the skin on the face) leading to a sagging of the skin which pulls down the lower eyelid.
(iv) Scar stricture: If the animal were involved in an accident which damaged tissue below (or above) the eye, then the contraction of tissue resulting from the healing process (scar) might pull the eyelids away from the eyeball. Usually, the ectropion problem (as in cases, i, ii, and iii above) would be present in both eyes. In the case of the scar stricture, the ectropion could be one-sided (ie affecting the eye where the scar from the wound is present).
(v) In hunting dogs after a strenuous day’s effort, we often notice a temporary ectropion condition – probably resulting from dehydration and plain tiredness.
In nutshell, once – for whatever reason – the eyelids droop, there will be a consequential exposure of the conjunctiva which would allow environmental irritants and bacteria easy access to the eyeball and surrounding structures. This, in turn, will produce a chronic or recurring conjunctivitis.
(i) Surgery: This is one of the few times that I will insist that a well-schooled and experienced practitioner carry out the operation – which is in fact plastic surgery. If the surgery results in too much tightening of the eyelid, then the opposite (entropion, see Pet Corner February 1, 2009) condition could be produced. The eyelids will roll inwards and scratch/irriate the eyeball.
Again, this is one of those few instances where I advise immediately for the surgical option. However, I will mention the other treatment possibilities which you (under veterinary direction) may carry out at home.
(ii) Lavage: This is a cute French word meaning ‘washing’/’bathing.’ Mild cases of ectropion (which hardly ever exist) could possible be controlled by a periodic (at least twice daily) washing with mild decongestant solutions.
(iii) Antibiotic/anti-inflammatory treatment: This hardly ever works, simply because the drugs will at best only kill the bacteria (infectious agents), but the exposure of the eyeball due to the drooping lids will continue giving rise to renewed irritation/infection.
Topical antibiotic-corticosteroid preparations might give some temporary ease to the periodic (but recurrent) infections, but surgical intervention/correction is indicated in most instances.
Enjoy the coming week.
Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals. Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.