Product Type: Optimmune dog accessories
Newest Review: ... to control the problem, and that Molly was at very high risk of another ulcer in the affected eye. Our only option was a drug ... more
Not A Dry Eye In Sight!
Optimmune Animal Eye Ointment
Member Name: Machair1
Optimmune Animal Eye Ointment
Date: 12/08/11, updated on 16/08/11 (538 review reads)
Advantages: Treats dry eye in dogs.
Disadvantages: Very expensive
Optimmune Animal Eye Ointment
Casting my mind back to the Christmas of 2005 seems like forever but it is a time I will never forget. Our family usually spend the festivities on the western fringes of the UK in The Outer Hebrides, where our dog Molly has the time of her life walking along the beach on Christmas Day. That year was no exception and following a lovely coastal walk and late dinner we all retired to bed happy- Molly included.
The next morning something was very wrong. Molly sleeps in her bed at the foot of ours and normally rises early in anticipation of her breakfast. This morning was different, she was not interested in getting up, and I noticed that one of her eyes was closed and that there was a green discharge. Fortunately one of my daughters who was a vet student at the time was with us on that trip, and she told us to urgently contact the emergency vet in case Molly had a corneal ulcer. This we did and our worst fears were confirmed - she did indeed have a deep ulcer on her cornea.
The first line of treatment was antibiotic drops and we were advised to take Molly straight to the vet at home on our return three days later. This we did and to our horror things had deteriorated. The ulcer had deepened and she was about to lose the sight in one eye. I was devastated and we were advised there were two options- the first surgery called a third eyelid op which Molly was unsuitable for as she is allergic to anaesthetic, and the second a contact lens called a buster lens which would cover the eye and protect it during healing. We opted for the second but it was to mark the beginning of six weeks of life I will never forget.
I am used to contact lenses as I wear them myself- Molly was not and with monotonous regularity she would roll around the floor and I would find the lens out of her eye. Sometimes I would notice it was missing and I would have to search for it- twice this task proved hopeless as on finally discovering it after several hours it was dried out and useless and I would have to take her back to be fitted for another. I worked from home at the time, and thank goodness as it was close surveillance for six weeks and very exhausting. Still the good news was it was successful, and although left with a visible scar Molly kept her sight and the ulcer healed.
No More Tears
In view of this event the vet decided to check the tear production in Molly's eyes and in the one with the healed ulcer it was nil. She had no tear production at all, and so she had succumbed to the ulcer as a result of inadequate lubrication of the eye surface. This is common in breeds of dogs that have protruding eyes including Shih Tzus, Boxers and King Charles Spaniels. She was prescribed Viscotears which are eye drops which moisten the eye, and were told she would need them for life. Most cases of dry eye in dogs are caused by an autoimmune response where the body attacks the tear production glands, and is not a reversible condition which clears up by itself.
Viscotears worked well for four years and Molly became used to the twice daily ritual. Actually this became four times a day when my daughter attended a lecture on this condition at university and was told the latest research suggested this offered the best protection.
Then last year we began to notice that Molly was often to be seen with a green discharge again at times, and we were bathing her eye every few days as crusts were forming in the corner of the eye which had the ulcer in the past. A vet appointment and tear test revealed that the Viscotears were now insufficient to control the problem, and that Molly was at very high risk of another ulcer in the affected eye. Our only option was a drug called Optimmune which although extremely expensive offered a treatment. More about the expense aspect later.
What Is Optimmune?
Optimmune is a drug supplied as an eye ointment which is unusual as it was developed for animal use and has been adapted for use on humans. Normally in veterinary medicine it is the other way round with human medicines being used for animal treatments. Dry eye in dogs also called Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is extremely common and this drug has been a miracle treatment for this condition.
If your dog is developing dry eye you may not have the dramatic start we had. Look out for any sign of redness or excessive blinking or discharge. Also if your dog has repeated infections it is worth asking your vet to do a tear test. Certainly with Shih Tzus they are twice as likely to get this condition as many dog breeds, and I would ask the vet to do a tear test when I have my next puppy at regular intervals if I see any of these warning signs. Optimmune works by stimulating the tear glands to produce tears, and the result is better lubrication of the eye surface and less chance of getting infections and ulcers.
With Molly we were advised initially to use Optimmune once daily in the evening and to continue with the Viscotears using them half an hour before the Optimmune. This did not control the tear production enough to being the levels back to an acceptable level, so we were advised to use twice a day. This has been successful and we have continued on this regime for some time now.
Application and Expense
The drug is supplied in small tubes and it is important not to get any of the product on your hands. Application is by pulling down the lower lid and applying a small drop of the ointment allowing the natural blinking response to saturate the eye with the product. Each tube lasts one month if used for one daily dose so we need two each month. This is where the finances hit hard and the sums add up. This medication will cost around £100 per month from the vet for the twice daily dose if you live in the South of England where I live. Other vets in more regional areas may offer this for less. You have of course the option to ask for a private prescription and to use an on-line pharmacy such as Vio-vet where the cost is less at around £50, but you will be charged for the private prescription in all probability as well as postage. This is where an insurance policy with life-long cover for recurring illnesses is so valuable. We have Petplan and this enables us to claim this cost back minus the excess we pay, and this applies for the rest of Molly's life not just the remainder of the policy year until renewal. So many insurances for pets now are not prepared to cover any long term conditions beyond the renewal date, and it is important to really compare policy wording as the cheaper ones often do not cover long term conditions. Yes the monthly premiums are high, but we are getting back so much more than we are paying in, and will do now for the rest of Molly's life. It is also worth saying that the initial cost of six weeks treatment for Molly when she had the ulcer topped a £1000, and this was again all picked up by Petplan minus the excess. It is worth saying here that there are other alternatives to Petplan offering this lifelong illness cover so it is well worth looking into.
Quality Of Life
Optimmune has been such a great success. Molly no longer has any discharge from her eyes and her quality of life has improved enormously. The ointment is easy to use, and you soon get into the routine of applying it and she is obliging as it is part of her life now. She is still at greater risk of eye problems so I do take extra care with her on walks and in the garden, and I keep plants pruned if they are at dog eye level. I am also careful with her on the beach now, as we were told that it is not advisable to let her run along sandy areas where the sand isn't compacted, as tiny grains of sand can enter the eye setting up irritations and infections can follow. She now goes on walks hugging the shoreline by the waves where she can paddle rather than run.
There is no doubt that Optimmune has been a wonderful drug for Molly, and I am so glad that I have insurance as even buying privately on-line is very costly on a monthly basis. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do everything I could to protect her eyesight, as she has given me more pleasure and happiness over her lifetime than any words can express.
This review is also published on Ciao under my user name Violet1278.
Summary: A drug which has the potential to control dry eye in dogs and to preserve sight.
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