Common Eye Issues in your Vail Valley and Eagle Dogs
Common eye issues in your Vail Valley and Eagle Dogs
A dog’s eye, as that of a human eye, is an integral part of the body as it miraculously converts reflected light into nerve impulses which are then turned into images by the brain! It has often been said “the eye is the window to the body,” as many systemic diseases of dogs will be manifested by changes in the eyes.
We see a lot of different conditions in the pets who come into our Vail and Eagle Veterinary office, some of which include:
Is your pet suddenly holding the eye shut? Is there excessive tearing? Your pet most likely has a corneal abrasion. Punctures from external sources such as sticks, grass seeds, or even traumatic punctures from other pets can cause trauma to the “cornea” which is the clear membrane covering your dog’s eyes. Corneal abrasions can be very painful for pets and if not treated quickly and result in your pet losing the eye. Corneal abrasions are diagnosed by your veterinarian using a special corneal stain called “fluorescein” which when applied to your pet’s eye will cause any corneal trauma to turn green. Corneal abrasions are most often treated with topical antibiotics administered every 2 hours, pain medications both topically and systemically, and an Elizabethan collar, which keeps your pet from continually rubbing the eye and causing further trauma.
The conjunctiva are the mucous membranes around the eye. Conjunctivitis, also known as “pink eye,” is inflammation of the conjunctiva. Symptoms include swollen tissues, redness, ocular discharge and itching. Conjunctivitis is most often found to be a “symptom” of an underlying problem such as physical irritation, bacterial or viral infection, as well as allergic reaction. Your veterinarian typically will stain the eye with the fluorescein stain utilized in corneal abrasions to be sure the eye is not damaged the prescribe topical medications to relieve the redness and itching. Medications utilized in conjunctivitis are not the same as those used in corneal abrasions.
Dogs, unlike humans, have three eyelids! They have the upper and lower eyelid, then one additional “hidden” eyelid called the third eyelid. The third eyelid hides in the middle corner of the eye and contains as small tear producing gland. Some dogs, mainly small breeds contain a congenital defect which loosens the ligaments holding the gland in place allowing the gland to “pop out” and appear like a “cherry.” These defects must be surgically repaired, by a special “tacking” procedure which puts the gland back in place below the eye. If left untreated, a “cherry eye” can cause repeated irritation of the eye,
Entropion occurs when the upper, lower or both eyelids turn inward, causing the lashes of the eyes to come in direct contact with the surface of the cornea. Entropion can be congenital or developed and cause moderate pain and discomfort for your dog. Entropion can be surgically corrected though and your dog can then live pain free!
Every dog has a “lens” which is in the middle of the eye, and allows light to penetrate the eye and reflect off the retina allowing images to be created. As pets age, or develop diseases such as diabetes, the lens becomes opaque which blocks the light and results in bad vision. Cataracts, if diagnosed early, can be surgically removed. They should not be confused with another common condition referred to as “lenticular sclerosis” which is protein deposits on the lens as part of the normal aging process.
KCS, as this is referred to, also known as “dry eye” is a result of the tear glands of the eye producing less than optimal tears. Tears in your dogs are essential in keeping the eyes lubricated and removing damaging material such as dust, dirt, grass seeds, etc. Without proper tear production, corneal discoloration , corneal ulcers and chronic discharge develop. Your veterinarian may diagnose KCS with a diagnostic test called a “Shirmer tear test” which is a small strip placed in the eye of the pet which can directly measure the tear production. KCS is most often treated with artificial tears and a medication called “cyclosporine” which stimulates the tear glands to increase the production of tears !
In summary, there are many conditions of the eyes of your Vail Valley and Eagle Dogs, but most are treated with proper veterinary attention!