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Dry Eye Syndrome in Cats



Unless there is a secondary disease that calls for hospitalization, your cat will be treated on an outpatient basis. Topical medications, such as artificial-tear medication and possibly a lubricant can be prescribed and administered to compensate for your cat's lack of tears. You will need to be sure to clean your cat's eyes before you administer the medication, along with keeping the eyes clean and free of dried discharge. Some patients with KCS are predisposed to severe corneal ulceration, so you will need to call your veterinarian at once if the pain increases so that it can be treated before serious injury occurs.


Your veterinarian will probably also prescribe a topical antibiotic to be placed on the eye, either to treat a bacterial infection or as a preventative, and a topical corticosteroid or cyclosporine (an immunosuppressant drug that reduces the activity of a patient’s immune system) can be used for treatment of inflammation and swelling. Other medications may be prescribed depending on the underlying diseases that have brought on this syndrome.


A surgical procedure called parotid duct transposition may be used to reroute the parotid duct. This procedure reroutes the aqueous ducts in such a way that saliva can be used to compensate for the lack of tears, delivering fluid to the inferior conjunctival cul-de-sac. It’s performed much less frequently since cyclosporine was introduced. Saliva can be irritating to the cornea; some patients are uncomfortable after surgery and require ongoing medical therapy.


Living and Management


Your veterinarian will want to recheck your cat at regular intervals to monitor response and progress. The Schirmer tear test will probably be performed again four to six weeks after initiating cyclosporine to evaluate response. Your cat should have received the drug the day of the visit. Immune-mediated diseases usually require life-long treatment. Other types of disease may be transient and may require treatment only until tear production returns.



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