Eyelashes may be virtually weightless, but anyone who has ever had one drift into their eye knows just how uncomfortable this experience can be.
If you notice your pet is over-producing tears in one or both eyes, they may be struggling with a painful eye condition called entropion. Here’s what you need to know to identify the signs of entropion in your cat or dog and get them the help they need.
Entropion is an eyelid disorder that causes your pet’s eyelashes to aggravate their eyes.
Your pet’s eyes are surrounded by ligaments that allow the eyelids to open and close effectively. If these ligaments are too tense or too loose, the eyelids can droop or roll inwards, causing the tiny hairs around the eyes to rub against the cornea.
Pets whose eyes are chronically poked and irritated by their eyelashes can develop conjunctivitis and secondary infections when they scratch and rub their eyes for relief.
Because entropion is mainly caused by genetics, pets can experience the condition in one eye or in both eyes at the same time. Be on the lookout for:
If you suspect entropion, keep in mind that the symptoms can be similar to several other eye conditions. Your vet can help rule out other common causes of eye irritation, like eye injuries, debris, seasonal allergies, and ocular herpes.
Cats and dogs of all breeds and ages can develop entropion, but certain eye conditions can increase your pet’s risk.
When the structures of the eyes weaken from age or slacken from significant weight loss, the eyelids may be more likely to sag and irritate your pet’s corneas.
The biggest predictors of entropion are genetics. Brachycephalic, or flat-faced, dogs and cats are prone to excessive tension in the ligaments surrounding their eyes, which can cause their eyelids to flip inwards. On the other hand, certain large-breed dogs tend to suffer from droopy eyes with the same result.
Be particularly cautious with these breeds:
Entropion isn’t just uncomfortable. Your pet’s efforts to relieve the irritation can cause them to scratch and damage their eyes, leading to infections or corneal ulcers. Getting effective treatment from entropion can save your pet’s vision.
If your cat or dog is struggling with eye irritation, your vet can confirm entropion and check on the health of their corneas. In milder cases with early intervention, medicated eye drops may be all you need to lubricate the eyes and clear up any secondary infection.
Dogs and cats with more pronounced cases of entropion may need surgery to reshape the structures of the eye so that the eyelashes don’t roll inward and irritate the cornea.
Entropion can’t be prevented, but it can be addressed early. Support your pet’s eye health with regular wellness exams at your vet’s office.