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Brachycephalic Syndrome: Eye Symptoms

Brachycephalic, or short-headed dogs, are characterized by short muzzles, or noses. Common breeds include bulldogs, pugs and Boston terriers. Brachycephalic syndrome is a common condition in these breeds of dogs and can include both respiratory and ophthalmic symptoms. The symptoms associated with the eyes include

  • Shallow orbits (or sockets), causing excessive exposure of the eyeballs and a predisposition to proptosis (when the eyeball is displaced from the eye socket)
  • Excessive eyelid length
  • Relatively poor blink reflex
  • Medial canthal entropion (rolling inward of the eyelids) causing the eyelid hairs to inappropriately contact the cornea

All of the above result in a predisposition to corneal ulcerations and pigmentary scarring of the cornea. These conditions can be surgically corrected by a procedure called canthoplasty, which removes a portion of the eyelid in the inner corner of the eye. By shortening the eyelid length, the entropion is corrected and the dog will normally be better able to blink. The net effect is better protection for the eye, decreased corneal exposure and irritation, and improved long-term corneal health.

Pigmentary keratitis, or corneal scarring, blocking vision in pug

Pigmentary keratitis, or corneal scarring, blocking vision in pug

Shih tzu with brachycephalic syndrome

Shih tzu with brachycephalic syndrome

In both cases, the scarring is a result of 1) excessive exposure of the eyes, and 2)  hairs from the lower eyelid entropion constantly rubbing on the cornea.

For more information on this subject, speak to the veterinarian who is treating your pet.