What is follicular conjunctivitis?
Follicular conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye(s) associated with increased formation of lymphoid follicles. It is a very common condition especially in young dogs. Most affected dogs are younger than 18 months of age.
What signs may I notice in my dog?
You may notice a red appearance of the eye(s), increased tearing and discharge, or rubbing at the eye(s).
What are the findings on ophthalmic examination?
Upon ophthalmic examination an increased number of lymphoid follicles are found, especially behind the third eyelid. The conjunctiva appears hyperemic (red) and increased tearing is usually present.
What is the cause of follicular conjunctivitis?
Follicular conjunctivitis is due to chronic irritation and immunologic stimulation initiating proliferation of the normally present follicles on the bulbar aspect of the lid. In chronic cases follicles may develop anywhere on the conjunctiva and may become self-perpetuating as the follicles create irritation. Chronic irritation may be caused by dust, pollens, or allergens etc. Follicular conjunctivitis does not necessarily indicate an infectious process but in some cases it is secondary to bacterial or viral infections.
What should be done?
In mild cases treatment may not be necessary. If your dog becomes uncomfortable, treatment with anti-inflammatory eye drops (in a tapering regimen) will reduce the clinical signs. In non-responsive cases, the follicles can be gently debrided to reduce irritation. However, the follicles should not be sharply removed, because the lymphoid tissue is critical to the ocular defense system.