Protecting your pets’ vision
By Dr. Beth Engelbert, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Many things can affect the eyes in dogs and cats. Injury, infection, and tumors are some of the most common afflictions. Regular examination of the eyes is important to diagnose problems and help preserve vision. Any unusual redness, discharge, squinting, or rubbing should be checked out.
Eye drainage is one of the most frequent findings with many eye diseases. The color and consistency can be helpful in determining the problem. Clear drainage can mean eye pain, a plugged duct, or inward facing eyelashes or eyelids. Thick drainage can be a sign of infection or dry eye.
Injuries can affect the eyeball itself or the tissues around the eye. Corneal scratches and ulcers tend to be very painful and almost always need medication to heal. Severe injuries may require special techniques to help heal. Injuries can puncture the eye. If an eye ever looks “deflated,” it is an immediate emergency.
Infections can affect the outer membranes and third eyelid, but they can also be inside the eye. Infections may be bacterial, viral, or fungal. Sometimes culturing is needed to diagnose the problem, especially if there is poor response to initial treatment. Diagnosing infections inside the eye may require special equipment to examine the two chambers, lens, retina, and other structures of the eye.
Dogs and cats can develop glaucoma. Glaucoma, or increased eye pressure, is painful and can quickly cause blindness. Glaucoma can occur for many reasons, including trauma, infection, cataracts, or genetics. If one eye ever looks bigger than the other, it should be evaluated as soon as possible. Often a referral to a specialist is recommended. Specialty centers have the most current medications and instruments to quickly decrease eye pressure and offer the most effective treatment to preserve vision if possible.
The majority of treatments are topical in a liquid drop or an ointment to be placed directly on the eye. Your veterinarian or their staff can give you tips and direction for properly medicating your pet. Some pets and some treatments require the use of an Elizabethan (cone) collar. Pets frequently rub or scratch at painful eyes. The collar will prevent further trauma and must be used as directed. One wrong scratch or rub can set back treatment by days, sometimes weeks.
Eye removal is sometimes recommended. Trauma, tumors, and glaucoma are the main reasons for this. While it changes the look of your pet, it often removes the pain of disease or trauma in an already visionless eye.
If there is ever any question, an examination is always recommended.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.