Pet Medical Library
Common Eye Problems include allergic irritation and trauma. Tests such as staining for ulcers or scratches, testing for glaucoma or 'dry eye' are easily and commonly performed at Siena Animal Hospital. Medications, often topical, but occasionally oral, are prescribed once the diagnosis is made.
Dry Eye (KCS = keratoconjunctivitis sicca)
Some dogs do not produce enough tears to keep their eyes well lubricated and healthy. They often have an excess of mucus production as well as increased redness, squinting and pain secondary to the 'sand-paper' effect of dust and other irritants rubbing on their dry cornea (surface of the eye). Tests for tear production are easily performed, and long-term medications will help the problem. Severe cases may require surgery or increased frequency and types of medications.
Glaucoma (Increased pressure in the eye)
Glaucoma can have breed tendencies (Cockers, Bassets) and can also be caused by trauma or infection. Like most diseases, it is best managed early in the disease; hence, if you have a breed prone to glaucoma, you should have him tested every 6-12 months. Symptoms are similar to other eye problems -- redness, pain, squinting, discharge and even blindness.
Enucleation is the surgical removal of the eyeball. It is a last-resort treatment for very serious eye diseases or injuries to be considered only after other alternatives have been carefully considered.
Modern surgical techniques allow minimum disfigurement and maximum comfort to the patient. After the eyeball is removed, the eyelids are sutured permanently closed. The procedure is an acceptable, humane alternative to the destruction of the pet.
After healing is complete, most animals show only faint scars and a shallow indentation of the skin where the eyeball was removed. If your pet has long hair, the area may be hidden by various grooming techniques. Animals adjust very well to single-eyed vision.
If your pet has advanced glaucoma, cancer or irreparable eye damage, then enucleation is the best option.
Eyelid Tumors - Wedge Resection
Growths on the eyelid can be surgically removed with wedge resections, provided that less than 1/4 of the eyelid is involved. If more than 1/4 of the eyelid is involved, then procedures such as sliding skin grafts must be used.
Some growths are cancerous and some are not; a biopsy (histopathology) is recommended to get a prognosis.
Removal/Replacement of the Gland of the Third Eyelid (Cherry Eye)
Dogs and cats have three eyelids. Sometimes the gland of the inner lid (nictitating membrane) protrudes out. This is usually due to a structural problem and needs to be corrected with surgery.
Since this gland produces some of the tears, a test is done to determine if tear production is adequate before surgery.
Entropion is the rolling inward (inversion) of the eyelids. It may cause the eyelashes to rub against the sensitive front layer of the eyeball (cornea) and is often uncomfortable or painful. It also can cause serious eye damage. Causes can include birth defects, injuries and other eye disorders. Entropion may be permanent or temporary and may occur at any age after the eyes open, around 2 weeks of age. Certain breeds, such as Shar-pei's are very prone to entropion.
Ectropion is the turning out (eversion) of the eyelid. Besides being unattractive, ectropion can cause irritation because it exposes the sensitive inner lining of the eyelids and eyeball to irritants. It also allows drying of the eyeball due to increased tear evaporation. It may also prevent efficient spreading of the tears during the blink reflex. Ectropion may be normal and harmless in some dogs, but abnormal and harmful in others. Causes can include inherited factors, birth defects, and injuries.
Both problems can be surgically corrected either by your veterinarian, or in severe cases, a Board-Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist.
If necessary, there are local Ophthalmologists. For more information, click on Dr. Brinkman or Eye Care for Animals.