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Corneal ulcers are classified by the depth of corneal involvement and by their underlying cause. Depth of corneal involvement includes superficial corneal ulcers, stromal corneal ulcers, descemetoceles, and corneal perforations. Causes of corneal ulcers include eyelash abnormalities (distichiasis, ectopic cilia, trichiasis), eyelid abnormalities (entropion, ectropion, lagophthalmos, eyelid masses), disorders of the tear film (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), viral etiology (e.g. herpesvirus in cats and less commonly in dogs), trauma, and chemical irritants.

For the successful management of ulcerative keratitis, the inciting cause of the ulcer is identified and addressed, the severity of the ulcer is determined, and the appropriate therapeutic modality is selected (e.g. medical management +/- surgical intervention).

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