Eyes like Ours

By Vanessa Vandersande DVM

Did you know that animals suffer from many of the same eye problems that we do?  Clinical signs like red eyes, rubbing at the eyes and tear staining can be signs of eye problems and generally mean a trip to the vet is in order. Eye problems can be very painful and when ignored may lead to permanent damage, so prompt attention is important. Here are some common diseases we will be looking for during an eye exam.

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, a fancy name for dry eye, is a disease that leads to an inflamed, dry cornea and conjunctiva. It occurs when there is a deficiency in the water portion of the tears, which normally accounts for 95% of the tear volume. The disease leads to a gooey yellow eye discharge characteristic of this condition. It can be diagnosed with an inexpensive test within minutes.

Glaucoma is an eye disease where the pressure in the eye becomes elevated. Intraocular pressure can become rapidly elevated to levels much higher than typically occur in people. Values above 50 mmHg rapidly cause blindness, are painful, and may cause the eye size to increase and it may bulge.  The beginning of diagnosis of glaucoma includes a test which checks pressure in the eye, which can be done in a few minutes during an eye exam.

Cataracts are an opacity in the lens of the eye. The entire lens may be involved or just a part of it. The opacity stops the passage of light through the lens and causes partial or complete blindness. Since many dogs adjust to blindness fairly well, some cataracts are not that problematic. However cataracts often lead to  secondary problems such as uveitis and glaucoma, so a dog or cat with cataracts should have several tests run annually to monitor for other diseases. Cataracts can sometimes be fixed with surgery which may cause a return of vision. The procedure is similar to the cataract surgery offered for human patients.

If you are concerned about your pets eyes, make an appointment at Copper Hill Animal Clinic for a complete ophthalmic assessment.