V A Top Ten of Newer Ophthalmic Drugs anti-viral medications

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					                                 80th Western Veterinary Conference

A Top Ten of Newer Ophthalmic Drugs
Michael H. Brown, DVM, MS, DACVO
Veterinary Ophthalmology Services, Inc
Little Falls, NJ, USA

    To familiarize the practitioner with several new ophthalmic medications and their indications.

    There are several new lacrimomimetic, lacrostimulants, topical antibiotics, antiviral medications
    and glaucoma medications that should be considered when treating certain diseases of the eye.

    In order to determine appropriate therapy for animals with ophthalmic disease, a Schirmer tear test,
    fluorescein stain and tonometry should be performed in every patient that presents with a “red”

    Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS) (See Figure 1) is treated most effectively by using a topical therapy
    that stimulates tear production. Most animals will also benefit from topical lubrication agents to
    improve comfort and maintain corneal health. Lacromimetic agents have the advantage that they
    have an aqueous base that resembles natural tears more than petroleum-based ointments.
    GenTeal (Novartis Ophthalmics) is an over-the-counter preparation that contains hydrogen
    peroxide. When applied to the eye, the hydrogen peroxide is converted into oxygen and water. It is
    very effective in proving relief to patients with Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca. It is sold in multi-dose
    vials and is available in liquid and gel preparations. The severe formulation is preferred as is has
    the highest concentration of hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (0.3%) which increases retention on the
    corneal surface.
    Lubrithal (Aventix Animal Health) is a carbomer gel. It is an excellent corneal lubricant and is sold
    in a multi-dose container. It is slightly more viscous than GenTeal. It is packaged in a 30 gram tube
    and is well tolerated.
    I-Drop-Vet and I-Drop-Vet Plus (I-MED Pharma) contains sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid)
    which affords excellent mucinomimetic properties. It also glycerin to help improve lubrication
    qualities. This may allow less frequent applications than traditional over-the-counter preparations.
    Cyclosporine (Optimmune-Schering Plough Animal Health) is a veterinary ophthalmic medication
    indicated for the treatment of Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca. Cyclosporine stimulates tear production by
    suppressing T-helper lymphocytes and direct lacrimal stimulation. Cyclosporine is also helpful in
    the treatment of inflammatory corneal disorders such as pannus and other immune-mediated
    conditions. Cyclosporine may cause irritation as a topical therapy due to the lipid base composition.
    Tacrolimus (FK-506, macrolide immunosuppressant)) is a compounded medication also used for
    the treatment of Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca and inflammatory ocular surface disorders. Tacrolimus
    is similar to cyclosporine in structure and mechanism of action. It has been used orally, as an
    immunosuppressant in human organ transplant patients, and topically, for immune-mediated skin
    condition such as eczema. It is a potent modulator of the immune response to antigens by inhibiting
    T-lymphocyte activation. The exact mechanism has not been determined. In one study involving 26
    dogs with KCS, 96% of the treated eyes improved. Schirmer tear test values increased in 92% of
    eyes. Ocular irritation appears to be less than cyclosporine. In some patients where cyclosporine
    was not effective. Tacrolimus was effective in improving clinical signs associated with KCS.
    Newer generations of fluoroquinolones are available for use in animals with infectious ocular
    disease (0.3% ofloxacin, 0.3% norfloxacin, 0.3% gatifloxacin and 0.3% ciprofloxacin). These
ophthalmic antibiotics should not be used for routine ophthalmic disease as susceptible flora may
become resistant. Their use should be reserved for persistent infectious conditions
(melting/infected corneal ulcer, stromal ulcer). (See Figure 2) They are very effective in treating
infections caused by gram-negative organisms. They are typically applied 4–6 times daily.
Fluoroquinolones are effective in treating conditions involving Pseudomonas species, Escherichia coli
and Staphylococcus species. Fluoroquinolones have variable effectiveness in treating condition caused
by Streptococcus species. They have an advantage over other topical antibiotics in that they penetrate
the intact corneal epithelium. Gatifloxacin offers the best corneal penetration. Fluoroquinolones are
more expensive than traditional topical antibiotics.
There are several antiviral medications (idoxuridine, trifluridine, cidofovir, famciclovir and lysine)
available to treat feline herpes virus. (See Figure 3)
Idoxuridine and trifluridine are topical antiviral drugs that are nucleoside analogues, similar to the
nucleosides used in viral and host DNA and RNA synthesis. They substitute into viral DNA to
disrupt virus replication cycle. Both medications may be cause irritation when applied topically.
Idoxuridine is a compounded medication whereas trifluridine a commercially available medication.
Both medications are applied 3–4 times daily.
Cidofovir is a compounded 0.5% solution applied topically to treat feline herpes infections. It
decreases clinical signs of feline herpes infection as it is an acyclic analogue of cytosine. It is applied
twice daily and causes less irritation than trifluridine and idoxuridine.
Famciclovir (Famvir-Novartis) is a systemic antiviral medication used to treat cats with severe cases
of feline herpes infection. Cats dosed at 90 mg/kg orally three times daily for 21 days did not
exhibit signs of toxicity and clinical signs of herpes infection improved. Clinically, cats often
improve with doses as small as 1/8 to ¼ of a 125 mg tablet once daily. For more severe infections in
adult cats, 250 mg by mouth twice daily for 10 days may be effective.
Lysine is used as adjunctive therapy to treat feline herpes. It can decrease the severity of clinical
signs and increase the time between recurrences. Alone, it not an effective treatment for feline
herpes. Lysine is dosed at 250 mg orally twice daily for kittens and 500 mg twice daily in adult cats.
Lysine may cause vomiting and is formulated as a large tablet. Newer veterinary and human
formulations are available that are easier to administer than tablets. Viralys Gel, Viralys Powder
and Enisyl F are examples of such products.
The introduction of newer glaucoma medications has improved the management of glaucoma in
the veterinary patient. (See Figure 4) As there is no cure for glaucoma, newer topical medications
are critical to control the intraocular pressure.
Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (methazolamide, acetazolamide) are used to decrease aqueous
humor production. They are available as oral and topical medications for the treatment of
glaucoma. Topical carbonic anhydrase inhibitors have the advantage of causing fewer side effects
than the systemic medication. Two percent dorzolamide (Trusopt-Merck) or 1% brinzolamide
(Azopt-Alson) three times daily significantly decrease the rate of aqueous humor production. The
combination of oral and topical carbonic anhydrase inhibitors is not more effective than topical
therapy alone for the treatment of glaucoma.
Cosopt (Merck) combines dorzolamide and timolol (0.5%) as a topical anti-glaucoma therapy. It is
applied every eight hours. The main disadvantage of this medication is increased expense.
Prostaglandin analogues are a new drug class for the treatment of glaucoma. They are the most
effective ocular hypotensive agents as they decrease the intraocular pressure by increasing
uveoscleral outflow. The clinical efficacy of these medications may be noted in 60 minutes.
Latanoprost 0.005% (Xalatan-Pharmacia & Upjohn) and travoprost 0.004% (Travatan-Alcon) are two
prostaglandin analogues that have been studies for the treatment of glaucoma in dogs. These
medications cause marked miosis and mild clinical signs of anterior uveitis as mild breakdown of
the blood-aqueous barrier occurs. These medications should not be used in animals with secondary
glaucoma, severe uveitis or anterior lens luxation.
Figure 1. Canine patient with clinical signs of
keratoconjunctivitis sicca (conjunctival hyperemia,
seromucoid ocular discharge, blepharospasm).

Figure 2. Infected corneal ulcer in a dog. Note the
large fluorescein-positive area outlined by the
white arrows. Corneal edema, deep limbal
vascularization and malacia are present.

Figure 3. Feline herpetic conjunctivitis. Severe
chemosis and conjunctival hyperemia are present.
                                                              Figure 4. Acute congestive glaucoma in the canine
                                                              patient. Note the ciliary injected, diffuse corneal
                                                              edema, elevated nictitans and dilated pupil.

Over the past several years, many new medications have been introduced to treat various ocular diseases
in animals. The practitioner should become familiar with their clinical indications as they may greatly
improve the response to treatment. In some cases, the new medication may make the difference between
saving the eye and enucleation.

 Key Drug          Drug Class           Dose        Frequency       Route                Indications

Lysine          Nutritional            500 mg           BID           PO       Adjunct for feline herpes
Famciclovir*    Antiviral              250 mg        BID x 10         PO       Feline herpes (severe
                                                       days                    conjunctivitis, keratitis)
* Extra-label use, dose recommended based upon personal communication.

Veterinarians should become familiar with the numerous newer ophthalmic medications available to
treat conditions from dry eye, feline herpes, glaucoma and infectious ocular disease. Advancement in
pharmaceutical technology continues to improve the clinical efficacy of ophthalmic medications. For
animals with KCS, one should consider adjunct therapy by prescribing one of several improved topical
lubricants to improve patient comfort. Tacrolimus may be used in place of cyclosporine to help stimulate
tear production. For feline herpes, the clinician should consider topical antiviral and oral nutritional
supplements. The newer fluoroquinolones are very effective for the treatment of infectious corneal
disease in animals. In patients with glaucoma, consider topical prostaglandin analogues therapy for rapid
and effective IOP control.
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