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Plasmoma is infiltration of the third eyelids of dogs with plasma cells, a type of inflammatory cell. It is an uncommon inflammatory or immune-mediated condition that appears spontaneously (no known cause). German Shepherds are most often affected, but other breeds, including Belgian Sheepdogs, Dobermans and English Springer Spaniels can be affected.
The signs of plasmoma are irregular thickening, loss of pigmentation, and follicle formation on the third eyelids; usually both third eyelids are affected. Some cases progress to the point where the third eyelids spontaneously bleed and become quite painful.
Some patients with plasmoma eventually develop a similar problem, pannus, with their corneas (the clear surface of the eye).
Diagnosis is by physical exam, and cytology (microscopic exam of a swab from the third eyelids). There are a few other problems that can look the same as plasmoma, so sometimes sending the cytology to a pathologist or biopsy of the third eyelid is worthwhile.
There are several treatment options. We usually begin with two different eye lotions, one a corticosteroid and the other an immune supressor,cyclosporin; each used three to four times daily. If there is a good response, we continue until the third eyelids appear normal, and then gradually wean off the corticosteroid. If we successfully wean off the corticosteroid, we will then try to gradually decrease the frequency of the cyclosporine.
Plasmoma is usually controllable, but it is not curable. Most patients can never have medication completely withdrawn. Some patients will not respond to topical treatment only, and require oral medication.
Yarmouth Veterinary Center
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