Learn about the anatomy of the eye and common eye ailments.
At Countryside Animal Clinic, a full physical exam is an important part of our annual vaccination protocol. Pets can have many problems and diseases of the eye that can cause redness, inflammation, excessive tearing, or damage to the eye. Many eye problems can be easily diagnosed by your veterinarian with an ocular examination and specialized tests. A yearly evaluation, early detection, and prompt treatment of abnormalities can keep your pet’s eyes healthy.
When performing an ocular exam, a Countryside veterinarian checks the following eye structures:
– The cornea (the outer surface of the eye) for abrasions or abnormal pigmentation.
– The sclera (the white of the eye) and the conjunctiva (the eyelids) for redness or inflammation.
– The lens (located behind the cornea and focuses light) for changes or clouding.=
– The pupil (the black opening of the eye) for normal contraction and dilation.
Lenticular Sclerosis is commonly mistaken as cataracts by many owners. The eye may appear more cloudy or grey as a result of normal aging changes to the lens. Most dogs start to develop lenticular sclerosis around 6-8 years of age. It is not painful, usually does not affect vision, and does not require treatment.
A cataract in an opacity in the lens the eye causing the eye to look cloudy. When a cataract becomes thick and dense, it can lead to blindness. In some cases the lens can break free and float around causing painful inflammation, damage to the eye, or can lead to glaucoma. Cataracts can be genetic, caused by injuries, or certain diseases. Dogs and cats with diabetes have a high incidence of cataracts. Cataracts are also common in schnauzers, spaniels, terriers, and poodles. An eye exam with your veterinarian can diagnose cataracts and a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist can perform surgery to remove them.
Glaucoma is a condition in which the eye does not adequately drain and becomes enlarged. Your veterinarian can test the pressures of the eye to diagnose glaucoma during an exam. If left untreated, it can cause blindness.
A common eye injury is a corneal ulcer, a disruption of the surface of the eye, usually caused by a scratch or foreign object. It is diagnosed by applying fluorescent stain to the eye, the glowing stain will adhere to any abnormalities on the cornea. Severe eye injuries, such as an eye popping out of the socket or rupture of the eye, are usually caused by trauma and may require surgical repair or removal of the eye.
Chronic Dry Eye (KCS)
Chronic dry eye (KCS) is a common problem in dogs where one or both of the eye does not produce enough tears. Low tear production causes the surface of the eye to become too dry, resulting in pain, inflammation, and damage to the eye. This condition can easily be diagnosed with a tear test administered by your veterinarian at the time of an exam. Long term treatment consists of eye drops that stimulate the eye to produce tears and a medication to lubricate the eye.
Entropian is the inward rolling of the eyelids. This causes the eyelashes to rub on the eye, resulting in irritation and excessive tearing. Severe cases can cause damage to the surface of the eye. Most cases of entropian are congenital, meaning your pet was born with the abnormality, and it commonly affects chows, bulldogs, and shar-peis. Treatment depends on the severity of the problem, and can include surgical repair.
Cherry eye is a condition in which the tear gland of the third eyelid becomes detached and causes a red protrusion from the corner of the eye. The cause is not known, but it can cause infection and damage to the eye. Surgery consists of repositioning or removal the gland. Cherry eye typically affects younger dogs, and is most common in “bug-eyed” breeds such as spaniels, pugs, bulldogs, boston terriers, and shih tzus.
Do not hesitate to call Countryside immediately if you notice any of the following indications of an eye problem:
– excessively rubbing the eye(s)
– bulging of the eyeball
– increased tearing
– dilation of pupil
– cloudy appearance