Focus on the Eyes!
How healthy are your dog's eyes?
The eyes are complex organs and thankfully, function normally for most of the time.
However, problems can occur, so we have written a short blog about the more common ones.
Externally the eyes are protected by the eyelids and the third eyelid (in the corner of the eye).
Your dog’s eyes should be fully open, sparkly-clear and free of discharge or excessive tearing.
Inside, you can see the coloured part of the eye (the iris) and a pupil which responds to light.
You can also gently draw back the upper eyelids to see the white of the eye, which should be just that – white or only marginally pink.
Dry eye occurs when there is inadequate production of tears by the tear glands and is normally an immune-mediated condition in dogs.
Most commonly this is seen in middle aged to older-aged dogs as well as specific breeds.
Typical signs include increased levels of thick, yellowish discharge from the eyes, pinkness of inner eyelids and white of the eyes. Discomfort may also be noticeable, with increased blinking or rubbing at the eyes.
Diagnosis of this condition can be made using a simple test to measure tear production. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment is necessary with an ointment containing ciclosporin, usually applied twice daily to the affected eyes and thereafter life-long. Keeping this treatment consistent is important for the medication to work and for the eyes to stay comfortable. Many dogs also need lubricants applied regularly throughout the day.
Cataracts occur when the transparent lens inside the eye becomes opaque.
Cataracts affecting the whole of the lens will cause blindness.
Hereditary cataracts can present at various ages, breeds and are commonly seen in diabetic dogs which develop quickly and can cause blindness in just days or weeks.
Advanced cataracts also cause inflammation inside the eye, which can lead to other problems including glaucoma (a high pressure inside the eye). An eye with a cataract should therefore be monitored regularly. Cataract surgery to restore vision is possible in many cases and will require a referral to a specialist ophthalmologist.
Glaucoma is a high pressure inside the eye which causes blindness if not treated.
Changes that you may notice include redness of the white of the eye, a clouding/blueish colour to the cornea (front window) or general lethargy due to pain.
Any dog presenting with this sort of red eye should be treated as an emergency.
Early diagnosis is the golden rule with eyes
If your pet is showing any symptoms of eye problems (as described above) then please contact us at Hillside Vets (or your own local vet) immediately.
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