Pet Distichia/Ectopic Cilia Spring, TX

Ectopic cilia are aberrant hair growths that form inside the eyelid and touch the cornea directly.

Pet Distichia/Ectopic Cilia

What are distichia and ectopic cilia?

At North Houston Veterinary Ophthalmology (NHVO), distichia and ectopic cilia are “eyelashes” that are growing in an inappropriate location from the eyelid.  Distichia emerges from the leading edge of the eyelid through tiny gland openings.

Ectopic cilia emerge from the inner eyelid conjunctiva and directly contact the cornea.

What are the clinical signs of distichia and ectopic cilia?

Think of the sensation of having an eyelash in your eye and how you react.  Now imagine that eyelash is always there and can not be removed.  Typically these hairs cause increased tearing with or without squinting because they directly touch the cornea.  Both types of abnormal eyelash positioning can predispose to corneal ulcers, and ectopic cilia can cause severe discomfort for your pet.  Additionally, chronic irritation of the corneal can cause blood vessels and pigmentation to grow on the affected surface.

What causes distichia and ectopic cilia?

Distichia and ectopic cilia are due to abnormal growth of the hair follicle and associated gland during development.  They may be inherited or have a spontaneous abnormality.

What is the treatment for distichia and ectopic cilia?

Permanent removal of the abnormal hair is recommended to improve comfort and decrease the chance of complications, such as corneal ulceration.  The hair and associated follicle may be surgically excised, frozen with cryotherapy, heated by the thermocautery, or removed with electroepilation.