The Eyes Have It. We all know and love those short snouted breeds,

by Elizabeth F. Baird, DVM, CVPP, CCRT, cVMA from

the adorable French Bulldog to the outgoing Boston Terrier and the tank-like English Bulldog. The brachycephalic conformation is common in so many beloved breeds. There is a very old study that indicates humans are inherently

attracted to other humans and animals with large eyes, which is true particularly in infants, puppies and kittens as well as brachycephalic breeds. While the prominent eye may actually be part of what attracts us to these breeds, there is a definite downside potential. There are

many eye problems that are quite common in brachycephalic or short-snouted breeds of dogs. Some of these ophthalmic problems occur frequently in many other breeds as well, so while we can’t cover every ocular disorder here, let's identify the more common eye ailments for many breeds of dog. Lagophthalmos is a condition that results from the very

prominent globes (or eyeballs) of many dogs. Some have eyes that protrude so much that the eyelids cannot close over them properly. As a result, they may suffer from drying of the center of the eye and damage to the delicate cornea that covers the eye. If undetected, the chronic drying of the cornea can lead to scarring, pigment deposition and ultimately, loss of vision. The condition can also become very painful. Corneas need moisture to stay healthy and inadequate lid closure means they do not get the moisture and nutrients they need. While tear supplementation can help, it really isn’t feasible to supply enough tear supplement to compensate for this deficiency in eyelid closure, so surgery is nec- essary to reverse the problem. If you question whether your dog can shut its eyelids fully, watch them while they sleep. If there is a gap in the middle—even just a tiny one—the cornea may be get- ting too much exposure and damage. Yet another interesting facial feature in the short-nosed breeds

is the appearance of nasal folds.These folds can often be so promi- nent that they actually come in direct contact with the surface of the eyes. The ridged folds of skin that present between the muzzle and the eye area on each side of the bridge of the muz- zle (nose) are often very large in Pugs, Pekingese and Bulldogs (all vari- eties, but especially the English). The condition is

most noticeable along the inner surface of the eye in the portion closest to the nose. The constant abrasion and irritation leads to


scarring and to the deposition of very dark pigment in the cornea. This pigmentary keratitis, can ultimately lead to loss of vision in the areas affected. And yes, it is uncomfortable for the pet as well. Very prominent nasal folds often require surgical reduction to prevent contact with the surface of the eye. The good news is that surgery to reduce the nasal folds also typically solves many of the problems with skin fold infections that can also occur with the prominent nasal folds. Entropion and ectropion are two eyelid problems com-

mon to the brachycephalic breeds. Ectropion presents eversion or laxity in the lower eyelid causing it to droop away from the eye. This drooping leads to poor contact with the eye itself and often exposure irri- tation and conjunc- tivitis. This is very common in many breeds and not just those with a short snout. The longer nosed breed that is

the poster child for ectropion is actually the Bassett Hound. Those sad, droopy eyes are caused by classic ectropion. Endearing, but not very healthy. Entropion is an inward turning eyelid, which may be the

length of the eyelid or just near the inner or outer corner. If the eyelid inverts enough, the eyelashes will rub across the surface of the eye causing chronic irritation and often corneal erosions and ulcers. Again, many breeds are affected by this condition, so it is not specific to brachycephalic breeds. The odd thing about brachycephalic dogs is they may often have both—an inward turning eyelid at the inner or outer corners and a drooping lower eyelid in the center that sags away from the eye. Surgical correction is the only effective treatment, but it can do wonders to help with comfort and vision if addressed early. Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca or dry eye is also common in

brachycephalic breeds as well as many breeds with much longer snouts. Dry eye in its sim- plest form indicates there is inadequate production of tear film to protect and feed the cornea. Like most of these other problems, the eye becomes irritated, scarred and pigmented, ultimately destroying vision (and it hurts too). The theme is consistent

here: the cornea responds to most sorts of insults by becoming irritated, then it starts to develop pigment and scarring that impairs vision.

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