GSD keratitis (GSD stands for "German Shepherd Dog") is an inflammation of the cornea, which often affects the conjunctivas, and the third eyelid (also known as the "nictating membrane") as well. The condition is almost exclusively seen in GSD and their crossbreeds.
Middle age dogs (2-5 years) are most likely to develop this painless variety of keratits. Around the edges of the cornea patches of red tissue appear that extend towards the middle. In severe cases they might cover the whole of the cornea. Both eyes may be affected at the same time. Sunlight can contribute to the development of the disease, which makes the condition more likely to occur during the summer. If left untreated, eyesight is almost invariably lost.
The causes of the German Shepherd Dog keratitis are not fully understood. It is assumed that an autoimmune mechanism might be involved in its development. In this case, the immune system produces antibodies against corneal tissue, which eventually lead to its destruction.
GSD Keratitis cannot be healed. The only available treatment is the administration of anti-inflammatory drugs that suppress the immune system and limit further destruction of the cornea. The drugs have to be given for the entire life of the dog in the form of drops, or they may be injected into the cornea by your vet during an acute phase. If the medication is producing no results, destroyed layers of cornea tissue may be removed surgically and thus preserve at least partial vision. Due to the nature of the cornea this procedure can only be performed a limited number of times and should therefore remain a last resort.
If a dog is suffering from this type of keratits, drugs will have to be administered by the owner routinely. The eye has to be monitored closely in order to spot further spreading of the condition as early as possible. Since sunlight actually worsens the condition, affected dogs should stay inside on bright days. Certain sunglasses for animals are available, although they are not tolerated by every dog.