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Distichiae of the upper and lower lid of a dog

A distichia is an eyelash that arises from an abnormal part of the eyelid. This abnormality, attributed to a genetic mutation, is known to affect dogs and humans. Distichiae usually exit from the duct of the meibomian gland at the eyelid margin. They are usually multiple, and sometimes more than one arises from a duct. They can affect either the upper or lower eyelid and are usually bilateral. The lower eyelids of dogs usually have no eyelashes.[1]

Distichiae usually cause no symptoms, because the lashes are soft, but they can irritate the eye and cause tearing, squinting, inflammation, corneal ulcers and scarring.[2] Treatment options include manual removal, electrolysis, electrocautery, CO2 laser ablation,[3] cryotherapy, and surgery.

Commonly affected breeds[edit]

In veterinary medicine, some canine breeds are affected by distichiasis more frequently than others:

Ectopic cilia[edit]

An ectopic cilia is a special type of distichia usually found in younger dogs. Commonly affected breeds include Poodles, Golden Retrievers, and Shih Tzus.[5] The eyelash exits through the conjunctiva of the eyelid facing toward the eye, usually at the middle of the upper eyelid. It can cause intense pain and corneal ulcers. Treatment is surgery or cryotherapy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brooks, Dennis E. (2005). "Ophthalmic Examination Made Ridiculously Simple". Proceedings of the 30th World Congress of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. Retrieved 2007-02-20.
  2. ^ "Eyelids: Conformational Abnormalities". The Merck Veterinary Manual. 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-20.
  3. ^ Winkler, Christopher (2020-01-06) [2019]. "There's something in his eye: CO2 surgical lasers for distichia". Aesculight. Retrieved 2020-01-06.
  4. ^ Gelatt, Kirk N., ed. (1999). Veterinary Ophthalmology (3rd ed.). Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 0-683-30076-8.
  5. ^ Ketring, Kerry I. (2006). "The Top Ten Ophthalmic Mistakes" (PDF). Proceedings of the North American Veterinary Conference. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-02-20.

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