Optic Nerve: millions of Yahoo webcam images intercepted by GCHQ

Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal.

GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.

In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.

Yahoo reacted furiously to the webcam interception when approached by the Guardian. The company denied any prior knowledge of the program, accusing the agencies of “a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy“.

GCHQ does not have the technical means to make sure no images of UK or US citizens are collected and stored by the system, and there are no restrictions under UK law to prevent Americans’ images being accessed by British analysts without an individual warrant.

The documents also chronicle GCHQ’s sustained struggle to keep the large store of sexually explicit imagery collected by Optic Nerve away from the eyes of its staff, though there is little discussion about the privacy implications of storing this material in the first place.


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Optic Nerve, the documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show, began as a prototype in 2008 and was still active in 2012, according to an internal GCHQ wiki page accessed that year.

The system, eerily reminiscent of the telescreens evoked in George Orwell’s 1984, was used for experiments in automated facial recognition, to monitor GCHQ’s existing targets, and to discover new targets of interest. Such searches could be used to try to find terror suspects or criminals making use of multiple, anonymous user IDs.

Rather than collecting webcam chats in their entirety, the program saved one image every five minutes from the users’ feeds, partly to comply with human rights legislation, and also to avoid overloading GCHQ’s servers. The documents describe these users as “unselected” – intelligence agency parlance for bulk rather than targeted collection.

One document even likened the program’s “bulk access to Yahoo webcam images/events” to a massive digital police mugbook of previously arrested individuals.

“Face detection has the potential to aid selection of useful images for ‘mugshots’ or even for face recognition by assessing the angle of the face,” it reads. “The best images are ones where the person is facing the camera with their face upright.”

The agency did make efforts to limit analysts’ ability to see webcam images, restricting bulk searches to metadata only.

However, analysts were shown the faces of people with similar usernames to surveillance targets, potentially dragging in large numbers of innocent people. One document tells agency staff they were allowed to display “webcam images associated with similar Yahoo identifiers to your known target”.

Optic Nerve was based on collecting information from GCHQ’s huge network of internet cable taps, which was then processed and fed into systems provided by the NSA. Webcam information was fed into NSA’s XKeyscore search tool, and NSA research was used to build the tool which identified Yahoo’s webcam traffic.

Bulk surveillance on Yahoo users was begun, the documents said, because “Yahoo webcam is known to be used by GCHQ targets”.


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Programs like Optic Nerve, which collect information in bulk from largely anonymous user IDs, are unable to filter out information from UK or US citizens. Unlike the NSA, GCHQ is not required by UK law to “minimize”, or remove, domestic citizens’ information from its databases. However, additional legal authorisations are required before analysts can search for the data of individuals likely to be in the British Isles at the time of the search.

There are no such legal safeguards for searches on people believed to be in the US or the other allied “Five Eyes” nations – Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

GCHQ insists all of its activities are necessary, proportionate, and in accordance with UK law.

The documents also show that GCHQ trialled automatic searches based on facial recognition technology, for people resembling existing GCHQ targets: “[I]f you search for similar IDs to your target, you will be able to request automatic comparison of the face in the similar IDs to those in your target’s ID”.

The undated document, from GCHQ’s internal wiki information site, noted this capability was “now closed … but shortly to return!”

The privacy risks of mass collection from video sources have long been known to the NSA and GCHQ, as a research document from the mid-2000s noted: “One of the greatest hindrances to exploiting video data is the fact that the vast majority of videos received have no intelligence value whatsoever, such as pornography, commercials, movie clips and family home movies.”

Sexually explicit webcam material proved to be a particular problem for GCHQ, as one document delicately put it: “Unfortunately … it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person. Also, the fact that the Yahoo software allows more than one person to view a webcam stream without necessarily sending a reciprocal stream means that it appears sometimes to be used for broadcasting pornography.”

The document estimates that between 3% and 11% of the Yahoo webcam imagery harvested by GCHQ contains “undesirable nudity”. Discussing efforts to make the interface “safer to use”, it noted that current “naïve” pornography detectors assessed the amount of flesh in any given shot, and so attracted lots of false positives by incorrectly tagging shots of people’s faces as pornography.


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GCHQ did not make any specific attempts to prevent the collection or storage of explicit images, the documents suggest, but did eventually compromise by excluding images in which software had not detected any faces from search results – a bid to prevent many of the lewd shots being seen by analysts.

The system was not perfect at stopping those images reaching the eyes of GCHQ staff, though. An internal guide cautioned prospective Optic Nerve users that “there is no perfect ability to censor material which may be offensive. Users who may feel uncomfortable about such material are advised not to open them”.

It further notes that “under GCHQ’s offensive material policy, the dissemination of offensive material is a disciplinary offence”.


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Once collected, the metadata associated with the videos can be as valuable to the intelligence agencies as the images themselves.

It is not fully clear from the documents how much access the NSA has to the Yahoo webcam trove itself, though all of the policy documents were available to NSA analysts through their routine information-sharing. A previously revealed NSA metadata repository, codenamed Marina, has what the documents describe as a protocol class for webcam information.

In its statement to the Guardian, Yahoo strongly condemned the Optic Nerve program, and said it had no awareness of or involvement with the GCHQ collection.

“We were not aware of, nor would we condone, this reported activity,” said a spokeswoman. “This report, if true, represents a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy that is completely unacceptable, and we strongly call on the world’s governments to reform surveillance law consistent with the principles we outlined in December.

“We are committed to preserving our users’ trust and security and continue our efforts to expand encryption across all of our services.”

Yahoo has been one of the most outspoken technology companies objecting to the NSA’s bulk surveillance. It filed a transparency lawsuit with the secret US surveillance court to disclose a 2007 case in which it was compelled to provide customer data to the surveillance agency, and it railed against the NSA’s reported interception of information in transit between its data centers.

The documents do not refer to any specific court orders permitting collection of Yahoo’s webcam imagery, but GCHQ mass collection is governed by the UK’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, and requires certification by the foreign secretary, currently William Hague.

The Optic Nerve documentation shows legalities were being considered as new capabilities were being developed. Discussing adding automated facial matching, for example, analysts agreed to test a system before firming up its legal status for everyday use.

“It was agreed that the legalities of such a capability would be considered once it had been developed, but that the general principle applied would be that if the accuracy of the algorithm was such that it was useful to the analyst (ie, the number of spurious results was low, then it was likely to be proportionate),” the 2008 document reads.

The document continues: “This is allowed for research purposes but at the point where the results are shown to analysts for operational use, the proportionality and legality questions must be more carefully considered.”

Optic Nerve was just one of a series of GCHQ efforts at biometric detection, whether for target recognition or general security.

While the documents do not detail efforts as widescale as those against Yahoo users, one presentation discusses with interest the potential and capabilities of the Xbox 360’s Kinect camera, saying it generated “fairly normal webcam traffic” and was being evaluated as part of a wider program.

Documents previously revealed in the Guardian showed the NSA were exploring the video capabilities of game consoles for surveillance purposes.

Microsoft, the maker of Xbox, faced a privacy backlash last year when details emerged that the camera bundled with its new console, the Xbox One, would be always-on by default.

Beyond webcams and consoles, GCHQ and the NSA looked at building more detailed and accurate facial recognition tools, such as iris recognition cameras – “think Tom Cruise in Minority Report”, one presentation noted.

The same presentation talks about the strange means the agencies used to try and test such systems, including whether they could be tricked. One way of testing this was to use contact lenses on detailed mannequins.

To this end, GCHQ has a dummy nicknamed “the Head”, one document noted.

In a statement, a GCHQ spokesman said: “It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters.

“Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.

“All our operational processes rigorously support this position.”

The NSA declined to respond to specific queries about its access to the Optic Nerve system, the presence of US citizens’ data in such systems, or whether the NSA has similar bulk-collection programs.

However, NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said the agency did not ask foreign partners such as GCHQ to collect intelligence the agency could not legally collect itself.

“As we’ve said before, the National Security Agency does not ask its foreign partners to undertake any intelligence activity that the US government would be legally prohibited from undertaking itself,” she said.

“The NSA works with a number of partners in meeting its foreign intelligence mission goals, and those operations comply with US law and with the applicable laws under which those partners operate.

“A key part of the protections that apply to both US persons and citizens of other countries is the mandate that information be in support of a valid foreign intelligence requirement, and comply with US Attorney General-approved procedures to protect privacy rights. Those procedures govern the acquisition, use, and retention of information about US persons.”

Norman Animal Welfare Hosts March Pet Health Event

NORMAN, Oklahoma –

The Norman Animal Welfare Center and the Friends of the Animals of Norman will host a pet health event this Saturday in Cleveland County.

The March for Health Event will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 1 at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds, 615 E. Robinson, in Norman.

Dogs are required to be on leashes, and cats must be in carriers.

The event features services including vaccinations, micro-chips and heartworm prevention.

Pet services available at the event:

Micro-chip – $25

Rabies (1 year) – $5

Rabies (3 years) – $10

Those looking to for their animals to receive a 3-year rabies vaccine must present proof – tag or certificate – of a prior 1-year rabies vaccination.

Physical Exams with Report Card – $25

Heartworm Testing – $20

A limited supply of heartworm prevention will be available for pets testing negative for heart worms.

General De-worming – $5

Nail Trim – $10

City Pet License (Altered) – $8

City Pet License (Unaltered) – $16

A 50 percent discount will be offered to individuals 65 and older.

Kennel Cough Vaccination – $15

Distemper Parvo Vaccination – $20

Leptospirosis Vaccination – $5

Feline Distemper Vaccination – $20

Feline Leukemia Vaccination – $20

Discount for both Feline Distemper and Leukemia Vaccinations – $35

Adam Driver in talks for "Star Wars" film; Leah Remini calls Scientology a lie; more

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Thursday’s entertainment news includes the
first actor named to the next “Star Wars” film, Nick Lachey’s new gig and Leah
Remini on why she left Scientology.

“Fast Furious 7” will resume production this April.
The film has been on hold since the death of Paul Walker in November. “Fast 7” will be released in April 2015.

Former “Mob Wives” star Karen Gravano is suing the makers of
popular video game “Grand Theft Auto V.” She says one of the female characters in the game looks like her and has similar backstory.

Nick Lachey will make his debut Monday as the host of “Big
Morning Buzz Live” on VH1. Lachey’s first guest will be Adrienne Bailon from “The
Chetah Girls” and The Fray will perform. We all know we want to hear Lachey sing.

ABC will air a sneak peak of the next “Avengers” film on
March 18. The preview will premiere during “Marvel Studios: Assembling a
Universe,” a special that goes behind the scenes of the comic company.

Actress Leah Remini of “The King of Queens” has elaborated
on why she left the Church of Scientology. Apparently it was all a bunch of
lies.

Actor Adam Driver, who plays Lena Dunham’s character’s
boyfriend on “Girls,” is in final negotiations to be in the next “Star Wars”
movie. Driver will play the film’s villain.

Kendra Wilkinson says she’s done with having children after this pregnancy

Pregnant Kendra Wilkinson dished to Life Style that after she gives birth, she is done having children.

Wilkinson, who is currently 28-years-old, shared to Life Style that her goal is to have her tubes tied by the age of 30.

“I’m trying to tie my tubes!” Wilkinson revealed. “My doctors say I’m too young. But I am extremely done; I want no more!”

Wilkinson also dished on the state of her current pregnancy. While she is pregnant with a girl, she shared that her current pregnancy has been different than her first.

“This pregnancy has been a lot harder than my Lil’ Hank’s,” she shared.

She has already taken other measures, including a health kick, which was a different approach that she took when she was first pregnant with her first born, Hank, now 4.

“I went from being completely unhealthy [to healthy] the first time, and this time I’m considering vegan!” she said.

Wilkinson is expecting her daughter this May.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Couple minted after stumbling across millions in gold coins

A California couple out walking their dog have stumbled across a buried hoard of rare
mint-condition gold coins said to be worth up to US$10m.

Nearly all of the 1,427 coins dating from 1847 to 1894 were in
uncirculated mint condition, said David Hall, co-founder of
Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana, which authenticated them.

The face value of the gold pieces adds
up to about $27,000 but some of them are so rare that coin experts say
they could fetch nearly $1m each.

“I don’t like to say once in a lifetime for anything but you don’t get
an opportunity to handle this kind of material, a treasure like this,
ever,” said numismatist Don Kagin, who is representing the
finders. “It’s like they found the pot of gold at the end of the
rainbow.”

Kagin and McCarthy would say little about the couple’s property or its
ownership history, other than it is in a sprawling hilly area of Gold
Country, as the region that was the site of the 1849 Gold Rush is known.
The coins were found along a path the couple had walked for years. On
the day they found them the woman had bent over to examine
an old rusty can revealed by erosion under a tree.

Coin grader David Hall shows a sample from the 'Saddle Ridge Hoard'
Coin grader David Hall shows a sample from the ‘Saddle Ridge Hoard’. Photograph: Reed Saxon/AP

The coins, in $5, $10 and $20 denominations, were stored more or less
in
chronological order, McCarthy said, with the 1840s and 1850s pieces
going into one canister until it was filed, then new coins going into
the next one, and the next one after that. This made it unlikely they
were salted away in the ground progressively rather than swooped up all
at once in a robbery.

The find was made on a section of the property the couple nicknamed
Saddle Ridge, with Kagin dubbing the find the Saddle Ridge Hoard. Most
of the coins were minted in San Francisco but one $5 gold piece came
from as far away as Georgia.

One of the largest previous finds of gold coins was $1m worth
uncovered by construction workers in Jackson, Tennessee, in 1985. More
than 400,000 silver dollars were found in the home of a Reno, Nevada,
man who died in 1974. They were later sold intact for $7.3m.

Gold coins and ingots said to be worth as much as $130m were
recovered in the 1980s from the wreck of the SS Central America. But
historians knew roughly where that gold was because the ship went down
off the coast of North Carolina during a hurricane in 1857.

Kagin said the pair were remaining anonymous but would be loaning some coins to the American Numismatic
Association for its annual show in Atlanta on Thursday before putting most of them up for sale.

Porky and Buddy Pet Health – The Coming of ‘Mud Season’

Dear readers, we ran this column several years ago, but as we were looking outside at the recent rain and the mud holes springing up everywhere and thinking it might come in handy in the next few weeks.

Dear Porky Buddy,
Help!  I don’t mean to sound shallow and I really really love all my pets, but I dread the coming of spring, otherwise known as the “mud season.”  No matter how hard I try, I just cannot keep them from constantly tracking mud into the house and all over the carpets and it is so frustrating.  Do you have any practical suggestions?
Ken

Dear Ken,
Here’s one suggestion: Replace all your carpeting with industrial strength tile, put drain holes in the center of every room and a faucet on the wall where you can just attach a hose. No we’re just kidding. It doesn’t need to be industrial strength, any good quality tile will do. No we’re still kidding.

We actually love mud season, but we understand that people have houses and carpets and want to take care of them, even though we think it is a little shallow, as you suggest.

In spite of our opinion, there are some practical steps that you can take that will get you through the worst of it without having to shovel out wheelbarrows full of mud from your floors.

Start by just putting a shallow pan of water near every door where pets come in.

A big litter pan is the right depth and size.

In all likelihood, you will not be able to persuade your cats (if they go outside) to walk through, as cats have a modicum of common sense, but your dogs will do it for you.

And wet feet are a lot better than muddy feet.

Then, also at every door, have a supply of old towels.

We lay one out just inside the entrance, so every pet is pretty much guaranteed to walk on a towel before he or she gets to a carpet and you will also have an extra towel on hand to do any additional wiping.

Is it pretty?

No, you will not see this system in House Beautiful, and you will have to remember to pick them up before company comes, but it is a practical low cost way to deal with an irksome problem.

And it wouldn’t hurt to also invest in a really good carpet shampooer.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.

Our office is located at 265 W. First Street, Oswego, NY.

Phone (315) 207-1070.

Email: ochscontact@hotmail.com

Website: www.oswegohumane.org

Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other!

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West plan wedding; Kid Cudi releases surprise album; more

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Tuesday’s entertainment news includes Kid
Cudi’s surprise album, Disney’s new streaming service and Kanye and Kim’s
wedding plans.

Rapper Kid Cudi took a page out of Beyoncé’s book Monday
night, releasing his new album, “Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon,”
without warning on iTunes.

Actress Salma Hayek’s brother has been hospitalized after
being involved in a car crash that killed the passenger.

Disney has officially launched a new streaming service that
allows fans to purchase and watch more than 400 titles from Disney, Pixar and
Marvel. Now you can buy, watch and sing along to “Frozen” all night long.

Khloe Kardashian told Cosmopolitan magazine recently that
she hopes and prays for kids when the time is right. Apparently, she’s still
looking for her Kanye.

Speaking of which, Khloe’s sister Kim Kardashian and fiance Kanye
West are planning a wedding in Paris that will be more intimate than the
televised proposal. That won’t be hard.

“Girls” creator Lena Dunham will host “Saturday Night Live”
on March 8. It will be Dunham’s first time hosting SNL.

Water From California Glaciers Judged the Best in the World at International Tasting Competition

BERKELEY SPRINGS, WEST VIRGINIA–(Marketwired – Feb 24, 2014) –

Attn: Health, Life Style, Food, Environment, Entertainment and Business Editors/Reporter

California water was named the best tasting in the world at the 24th Annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting Competition over the weekend. The water produced by the Castle Rock Water Company comes from some of the rarest glaciers in the world atop Mt. Shasta at Dunsmuir in Northern California.

Castle Rock Water won Gold over 32 other entries for the title of the world’s best bottled water. Two waters – one from Crete, Greece the other from Eldorado, California – were tied for the silver medal. Bronze went to a Maryland bottler.

The competition is the largest and oldest in the world and is in its 24th year. Ten media judges spent hours tasting and selecting water from 13 countries. The best sparkling water in the world as well as the best tap water in the world both hailed from Canada.

Castle Rock Water is sourced from the seven glaciers atop legendary Mt. Shasta and is being bottled in vintage eco-friendly glass as it was originally in 1889 when Mt. Shasta Spring Water Company first introduced it to the nation at the turn of the century. Water from Mt. Shasta was once served in New York’s most fashionable hotels like the Waldorf Astoria, Biltmore and the Ritz-Carlton.

Daily passenger trains carrying thousands of people between Seattle and Los Angeles used to make brief stops at the base of Mt. Shasta so people could sip its famous water.

Thomas Greither, a noted environmentalist and president of Castle Rock Water Company, says, “We think the water is the best on the planet and we’re thrilled that the judges have reached the same conclusion.”

Mr. Greither says, “We’re renewing a tradition that began nearly 125 years ago from the source of the water to the use of glass bottles. We decided to bypass single-use plastic bottles in favor of glass, which is better for the environment. Glass bottles are more readily reusable and recyclable, and better for the person drinking the water since glass doesn’t infuse the water with anything unwanted. And our bottles contain more than 50% recycled glass.”

Glass versus Plastic

Mr. Greither says, “Almost all the water bottled in America is sold in plastic bottles and much of it comes from municipal taps.” It’s estimated that Americans send an estimated 30 billion single-use plastic bottles to the dump each year. Castle Rock Water Company is the only North American company to offer water in a single use glass bottle from a significantly growing glacier system according to Mr. Greither. The water comes from two caves deep in the mountain and is certified spring water by the FDA and the State of California.

Castle Rock Water Company is a family owned, community based joint venture with the City of Dunsmuir.

Mango unchained: was Bowen’s three- storey tourist attraction really stolen?

The Bowen tourist information centre is adamant its giant mango has been stolen, despite police saying the theft had not been reported and several elements of the case suggesting a marketing stunt.

A three-storey, 10-tonne giant mango disappeared after thieves took off with it from the tourist information centre in Bowen, north Queensland, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, employees claimed.

When staff showed up for work on Monday morning it was nowhere to be seen. They assumed the $90,000 sculpture was in for maintenance but a call to the centre manager Paul McLaughlin revealed this was not the case.

“I came out [to the centre] immediately and sure enough the mango was gone,” McLaughlin said.

“As most people would be aware, this mango is three storeys high, about 10 metres high, and weighs seven to 10 tonnes, so it’s very surprising that it’s gone.”

CCTV footage shows a large, unmarked, mobile crane backing up at the direction of some disguised individuals. A statement from the Bowen Tourism office said the CCTV footage shows the “suspicious” crane driving past the office towards the big mango.

Employees at the tourist centre denied it was a hoax, despite no reports of the mango being spotted on the highway or anywhere else.

“Definitely not,” Christin Short told Guardian Australia when asked.

“I wish it was.”

However a “wanted” poster for the mango – which had a Facebook page created for it on Monday morning – has appeared on social media, with a local radio station’s logo in the corner.

A call to the station – which had reportedly broadcast the news of the theft throughout the day – was put through to the newsroom. Guardian Australia was directed to a recent tweet by one of the station’s journalists. No confirmation or denial of a hoax was forthcoming, but the station had stopped broadcasting the theft in its news bulletin.

What’s the real story behind the Bowen Mango? I suspect a non commercial journalist will have 2 expose it. #MangoGate pic.twitter.com/tPYIMemsSq

— Aaron Lucas (@AaronLucasBris) February 24, 2014

Metadata within the PDF file of a media release gave another clue –
an author name of Banjo Advertising, a north Sydney advertising agency.

Laurence
Cronin of Banjo Advertising told Guardian Australia the agency was
helping out a friend with the media blitz to find the missing mango, but
could not categorically deny it was a marketing stunt.

Bowen
police told Guardian Australia the theft had not been reported to them
so they were not investigating. Queensland police also said they were
aware the mango was missing but no theft had been reported.

“No
one in their right mind considered for a second that someone would take a
giant … mango. It’s not like it’s something that can be easily hidden,”
said McLaughlin.

Tyre marks near the site suggested the culprits
headed south on the Bruce Highway, the tourist centre said. No one had
claimed responsibility for the theft, nor had any sighting been
reported.

The Bowen tourist centre said it was reviewing security
footage and “hopefully in the near future we’ll find out what’s happened
to it”.

The large mango, an attraction for visitors to Bowen, was erected in 2002 to celebrate the town’s
claim of being the mango production capital of Australia.

Dog Dry Eye or Canine KCS a Winter Health Risk Reports Eye Researcher

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Grants Pass, OR (PRWEB) February 21, 2014

“Dog dry eye,” also known as “canine KCS” (kerato-conjunctivitis sicca) can pose a serious health risk to pets, especially in winter, reports water and eye researcher Sharon Kleyne, a lifelong pet owner. Kleyne offers some easy suggestions to help keep the eyes of house pets clear, healthy and well hydrated through the winter months.

Sharon Kleyne is Founder of Bio Logic Aqua Research, a water and health research and product development center. Natures Tears® EyeMist® is the Research Center’s global signature product for dry eyes, dry eyelids and pet dry eye. Kleyne also hosts the globally syndicated Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water® radio show on VoiceAmerica and Apple iTunes.

According to Kleyne, dry eye is far more common among dogs than cats, although cats can also develop dry eye. Dogs are extremely curious, constantly poke their faces into underbrush, and often walk with their noses close to the ground. This leaves their eyes susceptible to dust, twigs, insects, etc. Other dry eye causes in pets include eye injuries, medications such as sulfa, and genetic predisposition.

Dry eye symptoms in dogs include pawing or rubbing of the eyes, which can also cause further injury, eye redness, a dull, dry look to the cornea (the clear part of the eye); gummy, stringy or crusty ocular discharge, hypersensitivity to light, eyelid twitching, inflamed eyelids, squinting and blinking, corneal ulceration and impaired vision..

Dry eye occurs more often in winter than summer, Kleyne explains, because cooler air cannot hold as much humidity or water vapor as warmer air and more time is spent indoors exposed to forced-air heating. Cool air and forced-air heating can both increase the rate at which water evaporates out of the eye’s protective tear film, which should be 98% water, and into the atmosphere.

According to Kleyne, several breeds are believed to be especially susceptible to dog dry eye. They include West Highland White Terrier, American Cocker Spaniel, English Bulldog, Pug, Pekingese, Yorkshire Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Boston Terrier, Dachshund, Chihuahua, German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher, English Springer Spaniel, Lhasa Apso and Shih-Tzu. Females and neutered males are more commonly affected, especially female Westies.

Numerous commercial medications for pet dry eye, says Kleyne, can be obtained from the veterinarian or pet store. If there is a secondary eye infection, that also must be cleared up. Any crusty discharge should be wiped away with a clean, wet, warm compress.

Dog dry eye can also be alleviated by applying an all-natural humidifying water mist. Kleyne suggests the product Nature’s Tears® EyeMist®. Although normally marketed to humans, the product is equally beneficial to pets. Nature’s Tears® EyeMist® is a product of Bio Logic Aqua Research, founded by Sharon Kleyne.

According to Kleyne, Nature’s Tears® EyeMist® is quickly and easily applied as a humidifying vapor around the eyes, without, fuss, resistance or pawing at the eyes.

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