a thin fold of skin covering and protecting the eye
Eyelashes also serve a protective function, preventing dust and debris from falling into the eyes. In addition, the eyelid keeps the surface of the eye moist by spreading tears and secretions across the surface of the eyeball when the eyelids “blink”.
Eyelid diseases are more common in dogs than in cats. These diseases can either be congenital (present at birth) or developmental. Although some conditions may be treated with medication, most diseases of the eyelid require surgery to correct.
- Inflammation of the eyelids characterized by redness, swelling and dried crusts. Divided into anterior blepharitis and posterior blepharitis, the latter also known as meibomian gland disease. Recommended treatment: Antibiotics and/or steroids. (FAQ on Blepharitis)
- A condition in which the gland of the third eyelid pops out of place, causing swelling and redness. Recommended treatment: Surgical procedure. (FAQ on Cherry Eye)
- A condition in which an eyelash grows from an abnormal place. These lashes usually grow from the duct of the oil gland (meibomian) at the eyelid margin, and there are usually multiple rather than single lashes involved. Recommended treatment: The most common surgeries to correct distichia include cryoepilation, electrolysis and surgical removal of small strips of conjunctiva containing distichia follicles. (FAQ on Distichia)
- A condition in which an eyelash hair grows in an abnormal location and is misdirected towards the eye surface causing severe pain and oftentimes results in a corneal ulceration (scratch). Recommended treatment: Surgical procedure. (FAQ on Ectopic Cilia)
- A condition in which the eyelids are turned inwards so the lashes rub the surface of the eyeball causing irritation and conjunctivitis and even corneal ulcers, eventually affecting vision. This can occur with one, two, three or four eyelids. Recommended treatment: Surgical procedure. (FAQ on Entropion)
- A condition seen in cats in which the temporal portion of the upper eyelid is missing, resulting in chronic irritation of the cornea. Recommended treatment: Surgical procedure. (FAQ on Eyelid Agenesis)
- The eyelid is a common location for mostly benign tumors in older dogs. Usually these involve the glands in the eyelid margin. These tumors can interfere with blinking as well as cause irritation from rubbing against the cornea as well as conjunctivitis and an increase in discharge from the eyes. Sometimes inflammation can masquerade as an eyelid tumor. Recommended treatment: surgical removal of the tumor. (FAQ on Eyelid Tumors)
Owners often will notice the slight opening between the eyelids, the dog that sleeps on its back or wakes easily if you come into the room. When affected, young animals can compensate by increasing tear production at night. Eventually, the ability of these dogs to compensate for the anatomic defect is compromised and the central area of the cornea will dry. When the central area of the cornea dries, it is predisposed to corneal ulceration. Initially, the ulcers are small and respond to conventional ulcer therapy. As the condition persists the ulcers become more severe and result in corneal scarring. If the scarring becomes severe, blindness may result. (FAQ on Lagophthalmos)
- A condition where normal hairs around the eyes are rubbing on the conjunctiva (white part of the eye), and / or the cornea (clear outer dome of the eye). Recommended treatment depends on severity of condition. This may be medically treated, or may require surgery. (FAQ on Nasal Trichiasis)