PURPOSE: To perform a comprehensive clinical, diagnostic, and imaging characterization of the ocular surface in West Highland White Terriers (WHWTs) diagnosed with aqueous deficient dry eye (ADDE) disease. METHODS: Six ADDE-affected and 13 ADDE-unaffected WHWT dogs were enrolled and underwent clinical assessment and disease scoring, tear osmolarity, phenol red thread test, Schirmer tear test, tear film breakup time, fluorescein staining, Rose bengal and lissamine green vital dye staining, meibometry, corneal esthesiometry, ultrasound pachymetry, optical coherence tomography, in vivo confocal microscopy, and conjunctival biopsy. Subjective assessment of their condition was provided by owner-reported surveys. RESULTS: ADDE-affected WHWT dogs had higher median clinical disease (conjunctiva: 5.75 vs. 0.00; cornea: 14.00 vs. 5.00; total: 17.50 vs. 5.00), vital staining (Rose bengal: 2.25 vs. 1.50; lissamine green: 2.00 vs. 1.00), and histologic disease (conjunctiva: 2 vs. 0) scores when compared with the controls. In addition, ADDE-affected WHWTs had significantly lower phenol red thread test (5.0 vs. 17.5, mm/15 s), Schirmer tear test (3 vs. 20, mm/min), tear film breakup time (3.6 vs. 13.9, s) values and higher area under the curve values for meibometry (394 vs. 245, meibometry units [MU]). There were no significant differences in other tear film tests performed. Advanced imaging revealed decreased tear meniscus height (optical coherence tomography) and variable pigment deposition within corneal epithelial cells (in vivo confocal microscopy). CONCLUSIONS: This comprehensive assessment of ADDE-affected WHWTs depicts the ocular surface changes associated with quantitative lacrimal gland dysfunction. Importantly, ADDE-affected WHWTs may prove a valuable naturally occurring ADDE model for investigating underlying pathophysiological mechanisms and the development of novel therapeutics.
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