Ectopic Cilia

Ectopic ciliae are hairs (eyelashes) which grow in an abnormal location and direction; emerging from the underside of the upper or lower eyelid and pointing directly toward the eye.

“Cilium” is Latin for hair, while “ectopic” refers to something that is abnormally positioned.  Thus, ectopic ciliae are hairs (eyelashes) which grow in an abnormal location and direction; emerging from the underside of the upper or lower eyelid and pointing directly toward the eye.  Ectopic cilia tend to be short and stiff and typically develop in the middle of the upper eyelid.  Each time the patient blinks, the stiff hair(s) rub against the eye leading to intense discomfort and often causing nonhealing corneal ulcers.  The condition is typically seen in younger dogs and commonly occurs in Boxers, English Bulldogs, Shih tzus, Lhasa Apsos, and Boston Terriers.  However, dogs of any age or breed may be affected.  Clinical signs of ectopic cilia include squinting, rubbing of the eye, ocular tearing/discharge, and/or redness.  These small hairs can be difficult to see with the unaided eye, thus our doctors use a hand held microscope to obtain a magnified view and achieve a thorough evaluation of all four eyelids.  Ectopic cilia generally requires surgical excision of the offending hairs and surrounding tissue to resolve the clinical signs (i.e. corneal ulcer) and ultimately achieve comfort.  We also utilize adjunctive cryotherapy (freezing therapy) to permanently destroy any remaining, aberrantly positioned hair follicle(s) which greatly reduces the potential regrowth of aberrant, ectopic eyelashes.

Depending on the eye(s) affected and the number of aberrant ciliae involved, this procedure ranges from $1,100 to $1,300, is performed under an operating microscope, and the patient is anesthetized using sevoflurane gas anesthesia.