Distichiasis, Trichiasis and Ectopic Cilia

General Information

Distichiasis is an abnormal condition in which extra eyelashes appear along the eyelid margin(s), where they normally should not grow. This condition is genetically inherited and is common in many breeds. Although some patients with distichiasis will exhibit discomfort, many show no clinical signs and some require no treatment.

Trichiasis involves hairs located in normal sites around the eye but are misdirected toward the eyeball or the cornea. Breeds with long facial hair (i.e. Shih Tzus) commonly have trichiasis. Trichiasis is a common cause of excess tearing and tear staining down the face, as the hairs act as a wick to pull the tears out of the eye. Offending hairs can be permanently removed by freezing the hair follicles if they are causing a problem, such as pain, itchiness, chronic wetness of the skin and associated infections. Although we use lasers for many procedures, they may be too destructive to the eyelid margin if multiple abnormal hairs are present.

Ectopic cilia is an eyelash that emerges from the underside (conjunctiva) of the upper or lower eyelid. This causes the short, stiff eyelash to rub against the eye whenever your pet blinks or sleeps. Ectopic cilia generally cause a great deal of discomfort and can create ulcerations on the surface of the eye. Ectopic cilia generally require surgical excision in order to alleviate clinical signs.

All three conditions may cause excessive tearing, discomfort and ocular scarring. Serious injury to the eye, particularly the cornea, may also occur. Early eye damage is not readily apparent and may be detected only

with the aid of special ophthalmic instruments.

Important Points in Treatment

1.Numerous procedures can be used to correct these disorders. The choice of treatment will be based on your pet’s individual needs.

2.Due to the complex, ongoing nature of distichiasis and trichiasis, new eyelashes may appear after the initial corrective procedure. This occurs in approximately 20% of patients and may necessitate a second procedure.

Treatment may not be needed if the condition causes no harm or discomfort.

If you have any further questions or concerns regarding distichiasis, trichiasis and ectopic cilia, please do not hesitate to call us at Eye Care for Animals.

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