The most common ophthalmological problems of brachycephalic dog breeds

Téma: dog,

Due to the anatomy of the skull, the size of the eyeball and the formation of the eyelid fissure, brachycephalic dog breeds can be expected to have a higher incidence of ophthalmological problems than other patients. Here we will review the most common of these.

  • Proptosis of the eyeball – in layman’s terms, a “dropped eye”. This is a condition in which the eyeball falls outside the orbit. It usually occurs when there is a trauma to the head – a bump on the back of the head, when playing with another dog, it can also occur when the leash is pulled hard or the skin is caught behind the neck. This is a situation that requires emergency surgical treatment, as time also plays a role in whether the patient’s eyesight can be saved. The eye that is “fallen out” in this way soon begins to dry out, necrotize and may even rupture. Another important factor is the degree of injury to the optic nerve and eye muscles. Such a condition may result in enucleation or removal of the eye.
  • Algal growth anomalies – here we distinguish trichiasis, distichiasis and the presence of ectopic algae. Trichiasis mainly affects brachycephalic breeds and means chronic irritation of the cornea and conjunctiva, e.g. from the nasal skin folds or in case of an inward rolling of the eyelid slit (entropion). Distichiasis is the presence of multiple algae growing from the sebaceous gland ducts perpendicularly from the eyelid slit. An ectopic eyelash is an isolated eyelash growing through the conjunctiva and requiring surgical removal. These problems can cause damage to the cornea through their irritation or what is called keratitis pigmentosa, which is the deposition of pigment in the cornea and if a large area is affected, it affects the patient’s ability to see.
  • Corneal erosion/ulcer – in this case we are talking about damage to the cornea of the eye. Superficial damage is referred to as corneal erosion and if it is a deeper defect, we call it an ulcer or ulcer. They can arise as a result of the anomalies mentioned above or, for example, during acute trauma to the eye. The damage is determined by special staining. Uncomplicated erosions can be healed with special gels with hyaluronic acid. If the erosions do not heal, which is common in these breeds, we perform corneal debridement with bandage lens application, for about 14 days. If left untreated, the erosion can quickly erupt into a corneal ulcer, which in turn can lead to an eyeball rupture.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (“dry eye syndrome”) – reduced tear production or poor tear film quality. If this condition is left untreated, it can again result in corneal damage and pigment formation over the entire surface of the eyeball.


If you observe redness of the whites or conjunctivae, increased tearing, eyelid drooping, paw mutilation or suspicious corneal opacity in your dog or cat – do not hesitate to contact your vet.

In brachycephalic breeds we recommend regular lubrication of the eye with special gels – e.g. Oftagel, Vidisic for better protection and moistening of the eye.