Ophthalmology - Special Services, Technology, & Information
Distichia are abnormal cilia or eyelashes emerging from the eyelid margins where the meibomian gland openings are located.
Distichia occur most commonly in the following breeds: Cocker Spaniel, English Bulldog, Toy and Miniature Poodles, St. Bernard, Golden Retriever, Boxer, Longhaired Miniature Dachshund, Yorkshire Terrier, and Pekinese.
Distichia may be fine, soft, pliable and may be directed away from the eye. Therefore, animals with this type of distichia may have no problems and require no treatment. In other instances, distichia are coarse and rub the cornea, causing considerable irritation, and possibly corneal ulceration.
When mild irritation is associated with distichia, topical lubricant ointments or removal of the cilia may afford temporary relief. In cases where distichia are causing persistent irritation, the cilia should be removed by cryosurgery. This involves freezing the affected portion of the lid margin with a special probe to destroy the hair follicle. Cryosurgery is a very effective form of therapy for distichia. However, it does not always prevent growth of new distichia, which may occur in some patients.
What to expect after surgery
After surgery, moderate discomfort and swelling is expected. Generally, this is present over the first two to three days and then slowly resolves. Temporary depigmentation (whitening) of the eyelids is common, however, the pigment usually returns within 4 to 6 months after surgery. Cryosurgery is generally very effective for treatment of distichia, however it is not uncommon for new distichia to develop in affected animals. The procedure can be repeated if this occurs.