Canine Dry Eye Treatment with Cyclosporine

Canine dry eye, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is a disease that is caused by a deficiency in the lacrimal gland, when there is an abnormal tear production. The tears have the function of lubricating the cornea and keeping the eye healthy and keep away eye infections. If the tear production is deficient, the eye will be irritated and this may result in cornea ulcers and even blindness. Cyclosporine is a common medication used to treat dry eye in dogs.

Canine Dry Eye

The canine dry eye is a condition that is more frequent in certain dog breeds and puppies; however, it may affect dogs of any age, breed or sex. The condition may be caused by a viral infection, toxicity or other eye conditions such as conjunctivitis or ulcers. The condition may also be inherited.

The condition may occur in one or both eyes and may be milder or more severe, depending on how severe the tear deficiency is.

The signs of dry eye may include the rubbing and pawing of the eye/eyes, squinting and light sensitivity. The eyes may appear red and swollen and you may notice that the eye is dry. A mucous discharge may also be present. Infections of the cornea and cornea ulcers will be frequent and the dog will experience a lot of pain.

A Schirmer tear test (STT) can confirm if the dog has a tear production deficiency.

Cyclosporine Treatment

The treatment of canine dry eye should focus on stimulating the tear production. Cyclosporine, also known as ciclosporin, is an immunosuppressant drug, also available as eye drops that can stimulate the production of tears. This treatment is preferred, as it requires only a few applications and it has no major side effects, even if the product is used for a longer period of time. The eye drops should be administered once or twice per day, depending on the severity of your dog’s condition.

The treatment period depends on the way the dog responds; typically the tear production should be back to normal in a few weeks. There should also be a trial period of a few days, to test if cyclosporine is effective in your dog.

The vet will also prescribe a supply of eye drops or artificial tears to prevent corneal ulcers.

The vet will check periodically if the tear production is normal, so that the treatment can be discontinued.

Cyclosporine Contraindications

Cyclosporine may interact with a number of drugs, so make sure you inform the vet about any other medication that your pet may take.

Cyclosporine Side Effects

Some of the side effects of cyclosporine may include:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing problems
  • Potassium retention
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure

Some of these side effects are not severe, but if your dog experiences breathing problems, you should contact your vet.

Other Uses of Cyclosporine

Being an immunosuppressant, cyclosporine is commonly used after organ transplants to prevent the organ rejection. However, the drug may also be used in conditions such as autoimmune diseases, psoriasis, dermatitis, arthritis, ulcerative colitis or as a possible treatment for asthma, when it is used as an inhalant.