Pet Pannus (Chronic Superficial Keratitis)

Pannus, or chronic superficial keratitis, is a disease that results in progressive opacity of the cornea.

What are the clinical signs of pannus?

Clinical signs associated with pannus include progressive opacity of the cornea, loss of pigment and nodule on the leading edge of the third eyelid, and conjunctival redness. In some cases, raised, fleshy masses develop on the cornea that may be mistaken for cancer. While pannus is not painful, it can progress to the point that vision is drastically reduced or even result in blindness.


What are the causes of Pannus?

Pannus is an immune-mediated disease in which the immune system targets normal corneal tissue. While pannus can develop in any breed and even mixed breeds, German shepherds are commonly affected. Ultraviolet radiation has been determined to be a factor in the development of pannus, especially in dogs that reside in elevations surpassing 3,000 feet.

What are the treatments for pannus?

Pannus is treated medically. Immune-modulating medications administered topically in the form of drops are used. In many instances, the corneal opacity can be significantly reversed, resulting in improved vision with aggressive medical therapy. Once the active disease process has been subdued, lifetime maintenance therapy must be administered to prevent the recurrence of the disease. This treatment can be in the form of daily medications or surgical implants that slowly release the medication over the years.