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Cornea: Pannus

Pannus is a presumed autoimmune disease of the ocular surface and is also known as “chronic superficial keratitis” (keratitis meaning corneal inflammation). It is characterized by fleshy inflammatory growth on the ocular surface. In most cases, the fleshy growth is partially pigmented and is most notable at the outer rim of the eye. Typical pannus is seen at the junction of the white part (the sclera) and the cornea (the clear covering in the very front of the eye). If uncontrolled, pannus can become blinding.

Though there is no known cure for pannus, we can usually maintain control of the condition using just topical immunomodulatory medications (eye ointments or drops). Topical immunomodulatory medications include steroids and nonsteroidal eye drops or ointments. Steroids can be most helpful in the early treatment stages, to promote regression of the fleshy growth. A typical schedule for initial therapy would entail eye medications four times daily. Once the fleshy growth has receded, pannus may be controlled with less intense therapy, and perhaps with only nonsteroidal medications. A typical maintenance schedule for pannus entails eye medications once to twice daily.

Pannus is exacerbated by UV light and high altitudes, and may therefore require a more intensive treatment regimen during times/seasons of bright sunlight (including winter in places like Minnesota). If your pet spends a significant amount of time outdoors, consider purchasing UV-protective goggles at a local pet store.

The condition waxes and wanes throughout life, so periodic follow-up is indicated to ensure that your pet is on the most appropriate therapy.

Mild pannus characterized by pigment at the outer corner of the eye

Mild pannus characterized by pigment at the outer corner of the eye

Mild pannus characterized by a fleshy vascular growth at the outer corner of the eye

Mild pannus characterized by a fleshy vascular growth at the outer corner of the eye

 

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