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Conjuntivitis

What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva - the tissues surrounding the eyeball and the lining of the eyelids and third eyelid. The third eyelid is the pinkish tissue that you see on the inside corner of each eye.

What causes conjunctivitis?

There are many different causes of conjunctivitis. One of the most common is a decrease in tear production, resulting in "dry eye." Some dogs develop conjunctivitis from bacterial or viral infections, foreign bodies (material in the eye), allergies, or skin diseases. Conjunctivitis is also seen with other underlying eye diseases such as corneal ulcers, inflammation inside the eye, or glaucoma. Local irritation from shampoos and dips can cause conjunctivitis. Animals with eyelid or eyelash abnormalities frequently have signs of conjunctivitis.

What are signs of conjunctivitis?

Dogs with conjunctivitis will have red eyes. The white parts of the eye itself, as well as the inner lining of the eyelids and third eyelid may become red and swollen. Some dogs are uncomfortable and may squint. Often, a discharge is seen, and may be thick or watery.

How is conjunctivitis diagnosed?

Conjunctivitis is diagnosed by direct examination of the eye. Your veterinarian may perform certain tests (tear production test, conjunctival scraping, bacterial culture, glaucoma test, or corneal staining) to determine the underlying cause.

How is conjunctivitis treated?

If an underlying cause is found, it will be treated with the appropriate specific medication. If no specific cause is found, your veterinarian may treat with antibiotics or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation (irritation, pain, redness, and swelling) and infection (bacteria).

It is important to monitor your dog during treatment, and contact your veterinarian if the condition does not improve or worsens. Since conjunctivitis is often the first obvious symptom of a serious disease (such as glaucoma) it should not be ignored.

Several tips will help you provide good nursing care for your dog:

Apply warm compresses to the eyelids to gently remove dried discharge
If mucus is present, use an eye rinse to cleanse the eye before applying medications (use only an eye rinse recommended by your veterinarian; over-the-counter products may contain ingredients that make the situation worse)
If solutions and ointments are both prescribed, use the solutions prior to the ointments
Wait several minutes (usually 10-15 minutes) between administering each different medication to allow for absorption

What is the prognosis for dogs with conjunctivitis?

Most cases of conjunctivitis can be easily treated or resolve spontaneously when the inciting cause is removed. However prognosis for conjunctivitis that develops secondary to a serious underlying eye disease (such as glaucoma) will depend on the animal's response to specific treatment.
Specific forms or Conjunctivitis

Conjuctivitis (Bacterial)

The conjunctiva is a clear membrane that is the tough, leathery outer coat of the eye. The white of the eye lies behind the conjunctiva. The conjuctiva has many small blood vessels and it serves to lubricate and protect the eye while the eye moves in its socket.

When the conjunctiva becomes inflamed, this is called conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis can have many causes, such as bacteria, viruses, chemicals, allergies, and more. In many cases it is difficult to determine the primary cause for the inflammation. One of the most common is bacterial.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is associated with swelling of the lid and a yellowish discharge. The conjunctiva appears red and sometimes thickened. Often both eyes are involved.

Conjunctivitis can be directly cured with treatment. Usually antibiotic drops and compresses ease the discomfort and clear up the infection in just a few days. In a few cases, the inflammation does not respond well to the initial treatment with eye drops. In those cases recheck visits to the office should be made and other measures undertaken. In severe infection, oral antibiotics are necessary. Covering the eye is not a good idea because a cover provides protection for the germs causing the infection. If left untreated, conjunctivitis can create serious complications, such as infections in the cornea, lids, and tear ducts.

Conjunctivitis in the Cat

What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is inflammation (swelling) of the tissues around the eyeball and lining the eyelids and third eyelid.

What causes conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis has many different causes. In cats, infection is a relatively common cause. Probably the most common cause in cats is infection by feline herpes virus. Cats are infected by their asymptomatic (no current signs of problem) mothers or by other asymptomatic or actively infected cats. The condition is not contagious to people. About 80% of infected cats eventually become long-term (chronic) carriers of the virus. Other common causes of infection in cats are the microorganisms chlamydia and mycoplasma. Both of these agents are transmitted by close contact with other infected cats. Animals with other eye diseases (glaucoma), surface eye disease (corneal ulceration, dust, or other foreign material irritation), allergy or eyelid abnormality (eyelashes out of place), may also have signs of conjunctivitis.

What are the signs of conjunctivitis?

Cats with conjunctivitis have red eyes. The white part of the eye itself, as well as the inner lining of the eyelids and third eyelid, may become red and swollen. Some cats are uncomfortable and may squint. Often, a watery, thick, or colored discharge is seen.

How is conjunctivitis diagnosed?

Conjunctivitis is diagnosed by direct examination of the eyes. Your veterinarian may perform special tests such as microscopic examination of scrapings of the eye for cell identification, a test for herpes virus, staining of the cornea, bacterial culture of eye discharge, and eye pressure testing to rule out underlying causes. The diagnosis of feline herpes virus is particularly difficult, and often the diagnosis is based on clinical signs.

How is conjunctivitis treated?

If an underlying cause is found or suspected, it will be treated. Treatment of feline herpes virus infection depends on severity of disease, but this may include topical (ointments or solutions administered on the eyes) or oral medications. Some of the topical antiviral medications can be irritating, and if your cat cannot tolerate the medication, or if the cat gets worse, contact your veterinarian. Treatment for bacterial conjunctivitis usually involves topical antibiotic medication, and treatment should continue for several days even after the cat's eyes appear normal.

The following tips can help you provide good nursing care for your cat:

Apply warm compresses to lids and gently remove dried discharge.
If mucous is present, use an eye rinse to cleanse the eye before applying medication.
If solutions and ointments are both prescribed, use the solutions before the ointments.
Wait 10 to 15 minutes between medications to allow the medication to be absorbed.

What is the prognosis for cats with conjunctivitis?

Depending on the cause, some cats get better with appropriate treatment. Feline herpes virus infection, however, can be a long-term condition, since most cats become carriers and can never be cured. In cats with proven or suspected herpes virus infection, minimizing stress will help their immune system to cope with the infection and put it into remission. The herpes virus infection tends to be most severe in young and immunosuppressed animals, and most kittens improve with age. Ideally, a cat with a suspected or proven case of infectious conjunctivitis should be isolated from other cats; however, this is often not practical. Cats should be isolated from young or immunosuppressed cats when they are showing clinical signs. Chlamydia infection can also be a long-term problem, and extensive treatment with topical antibiotics is often necessary. Other bacterial infections usually respond to one to two weeks of topical treatment with antibiotics.

The majority of the information in this page is has been taken from VetMedCenter.com. For further information about this useful source of informtion follow the link or look, on the internet, at www.vetmedcenter.com.