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Common Dog Eye Problems
Cataracts is the opacity of the lens. Inherited cataracts can often appear in young dogs, in most cases a veterinarian or veterinary ophthalmologist will have to make this diagnosis; owners are often unaware of small focal cataracts. There are also late onset cataracts that may not show up until middle or older age. Cataracts may develop because of an inherited defect, with age, or secondary to inflammation, trauma, diabetes, or retinal degenerations.
Cherry eye is the term used to refer to canine nictitans gland prolapse, a common eye condition in various dog breeds where the gland of the third eyelid prolapses and becomes visible. This condition usually must be corrected, mostly through surgery, because the gland produces some of the eye’s tears. Older methods of cherry eye correction involved simply removing the gland, but it is a last-resort procedure today (complemented with a lifetime of eyedrops if performed), as the gland’s purpose was unknown then. Modern methods of cherry eye correction involve repositioning of the gland to its normal location. The success rate of this type of surgery is approximately 80% in most breeds.
Corneal Ulceration. The cornea is the front clear part of the eye. The corneal is covered with a clear epithelium. The corneal epithelium is like our skin except that it is clear and smoother. If the corneal epithelium is scratched, scraped or rubbed off a corneal ulcer occurs. A corneal ulcer is painful and animals with ulcers often squint their eyes. A corneal ulcer can be a sight-threatening emergency if deep or infected.
Dermoid is a congenital defect where haired skin is located in an abnormal place on an eye and will often irritate the cornea and can cause ulcers.
Distichiasis is an abnormal position of eyelashes on a lid margin that result in irritation of the eye.
Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis sicca or KCS) is the lack of or inadequate production of tears. Sometimes this can be congenital in which case it is often very serious. Pug, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu are some of the breeds that may be born with dry eyes.
Ectopic Cilia is an abnormal eyelash that grows through the conjunctiva layer and is usually very painful and almost always causes an ulcer.
Ectropion is a medical condition in which the lower eyelid turns outwards. The condition can be repaired surgically.
Entropion is a medical condition in which the eyelids fold inward. It is very uncomfortable, as the eyelashes rub against the eyeball constantly. Entropion is usually caused by genetic factors and may be congenital. Trachoma infection may cause scarring of the inner eyelid, which may cause entropion.Treatment is a simple surgery in which excess skin of the outer lids is removed. Prognosis is excellent if surgery is performed before the cornea is damaged. Entropion has been documented in most dog breeds, although there are some breeds (particular purebreds) that are more commonly affected than others.
Follicular Conjunctivitis causes itchy, reddened conjunctival tissues, tearing, squinting, it is often related to allergies. (no image available)
Glaucoma. In glaucoma the pressure inside the eye is too high. The eye is full of fluid. The fluid is constantly produced and drained from the eye and supplies nutrition for all parts of the eye. Glaucoma is caused by a decrease in the amount of fluid that flows out of the eye. This is a serious disease and without proper treatment it can result in blindness. Glaucoma is one of the most frequent causes of blindness in adult dogs. The treatment chosen (i.e. surgery and/or medical therapy) will be influenced by what the goal of therapy is: to stop pain in a blind eye or to preserve vision. Medical treatment consists of a number of different drugs used in combination. Some are given by mouth and effect the whole body, while others are put directly into the eye and have a local effect. The drugs that work when the problem is first diagnosed may not work forever. Therefore, the intraocular pressure needs to be monitored on a regular basis so that the medication regimen can be altered to fit the needs of the patient. Unfortunately glaucoma cannot be cured, only controlled. When medical treatment fails, surgical therapy can help prolong vision.
Ocular Melanosis (OM) is a disease in the eyes which among dogs is almost only found in Cairn Terrier. Untill recently it was known as pigmentary glaucoma. Humans can also have the disease. (no image available)
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a name given to a broad group of eye diseases of similar character. PRA causes no pain or discomfort but may result in permanent blindness. The word atrophy means wasting away. PRA develops after birth and in some breeds has been determined to be inherited from both parents. It affects the retina, which lines the back portion of the inner eye. PRA can occur in all breeds of dogs and cats although certain breeds are at higher risk. It appears earlier in some breeds and can take several years to cause complete blindness. An early sign of PRA is inability to see in dim light or at night. For example, an animal with PRA may hesitate to go from a well lighted room into a darkened room. Due to PRA’s slow progress, most pets adapt very well to the gradual loss of sight. Many owners do not realize their pet is becoming blind. Animals compensate well for blindness, because their senses are much more acute than those of people. (no image available)
Retinal Dysplasia. This is an abnormality in the development of the retina. There may be no visual defect in affected dogs, therefore, will only be found when the eye is examined. It is a condition that is thought to be inherited in a number of breeds. The condition may also be acquired as an injury or due to viral infections, toxins and nutritional disorders. (no image available)
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