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Keratitis (Cloudy Eye) in Dogs

Keratitis is inflammation of the cornea in which the cornea becomes cloudy, resulting in loss of transparency. The signs are excessive tearing, squinting, pawing at the eye, avoiding light, and protrusion of the third eyelid. There are different types of keratitis; all are serious diseases and can lead to partial or complete blindness. All types of keratitis must be treated by a veterinarian.

Ulcerative keratitis is a painful corneal inflammation that occurs as a complication of keratoconjunctivitis sicca or corneal ulcer. The cornea appears dull and hazy, then cloudy, and finally milky white and relatively opaque. Treatment is similar to that described for Corneal Ulcer.

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Infectious keratitis occurs when a bacterial infection complicates ulcerative keratitis, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or corneal ulcer. The most common invading bacteria are Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Pseudomonas. In addition to eye pain, infectious keratitis is characterized by a purulent discharge from the eye. The eyelids are swollen and matted. This might, at first, suggest conjunctivitis (which could seriously delay diagnosis and treatment), but recall that conjunctivitis is not usually accompanied by signs of a painful eye.

Treatment is similar to that described for Corneal Ulcer. It is important to use topical antibiotics selected following culture and sensitivity tests.

Fungal keratitis is uncommon in dogs, but may occur with the prolonged use of topical antibiotics. The diagnosis is made by fungal culture. It is treated with antifungal drugs.

Interstitial keratitis (blue eye) is a corneal inflammation in which a bluish-white film appears over the clear window of the eye. It is caused by the same virus that causes infectious hepatitis, and at one time it occurred after vaccination with CAV-1 (vaccines with this version of the hepatitis virus are no longer used). Signs appear 10 days after exposure. The eyes begin to water and the dog squints and avoids light. Most dogs recover completely within a few weeks. In some cases the eye remains permanently clouded.

Vascular keratitis is caused by neovascularization-the process by which the transparency of the cornea is lost due to an ingrowth of blood vessels and connective tissue. You can see blood vessels growing onto the cornea with your naked eye.

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