Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Friday, April 29, 2011

Keeping An Eye on Things

I wanted to expound on a few of the eye problems I saw this week.

1. Proptosed eye aka popped out eyeball. This doesn't happen too often fortunately. It requires some trauma to do too. I've seen it with animals hit by cars, one dog that had his head accidentally slammed in a sliding glass door and most recently, from a dog attack. The brachycephalic breeds (short noses - ie pugs, shih tzu's, etc) are more susceptible to this.

In those cases, with a little lube (and sometimes sedation), I was able to gently push the eye back in and because they were seen immediately after the trauma, the eye remained visual. The longer it's out, the less likely you will retain vision in that eye. In some severe cases, surgery is needed to close the eye in and give the tissue time to heal OR the eye simply needs to come out (too much damage).

2. Cherry eye - a gland in the third eyelid prolapses or pops out. It NOT painful to the dog but always seems to bother the owner more. In any case, it can be left alone, removed (with the possibility the dog will have permanent dry eye in that eye) or surgically corrected (by creating a pouch that it gets tucked back into).  This is most common in Cocker Spaniels, Bulldogs, Pugs/Puggles, and Boston Terriers and is typically seen when they are young. 

Cherry eye in the dog's left eye.

3. Glaucoma. As with people this is increased pressure in the eye. It IS painful. There are numerous causes including trauma and genetics. In any case, the goal is to get the pressure down, hopefully save vision and at LEAST control pain.  To diagnose it we need to take a pressure measurement using a digital pressure reader called a Tonometer. Many ophthalmologists use this. I have had it used on me. If the pressure is elevated, we need to use certain types of drops to get it down and address any underlying issues that may be related to this. We often also give oral pain medications.   If it has gone on too long, vision will be lost. However, since dogs don't need to read or drive, they can be fine with one good eye or being totally blind. The question becomes, is the dog painful? If we can't get that eye pain under control, we need to surgically remove the eye. They do great! 

4. Corneal ulceration. Oh this is most definitely painful. Again trauma is the usual cause though in this situation it's usually another pet, the animal self traumatizing via scratching/rubbing or bumping into something inside or outside (sticks, bushes, etc).  This is easy to diagnose with a simple stain. Treatment can be prolonged in some cases (notably Boxers). These cases need to be followed closely as they can go south quickly. The pet MUST be prevented from rubbing at the eye and sometimes we have to switch meds a time or two. Lately, veterinarians have had many of our eye ointments taken off the market or marked UP tremendously, limiting what we can offer to clients.  In some cases where healing is NOT going as we expect, we may recommend surgical interventions that include scraping the cornea (to encourage healing) and closing the eyelids or conjuctiva/third eyelid over the eye as a "bandaid."

Stain uptake showing the ulcerated area.

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