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- Treating glaucoma in dogs depends on the severity and type. Vets may prescribe topical therapies like using ointments, or oral medications such as carbonic anhydrase inhibitors.
- In severe cases, surgery might be needed to treat glaucoma in dogs.
- Glaucoma in dogs can be caused by bleeding and inflammation in the eye (uveitis), luxation or displacement of the lens, attachments or scarring between the iris and lens, and many more.
If your dog’s eyes are reddish in color, has greenish or yellowish discharge, and he is pawing at them, chances are he has glaucoma developing. I suggest you take your furry friend to the vet immediately. Glaucoma in dogs can be painful and if not treated promptly, can progress to complete blindness. If your dog is diagnosed with glaucoma, your vet might prescribe ointments and oral drugs, or perform an eye surgery depending on the severity of the condition.
In this article, I wrote a pet owner’s guide on how to treat to glaucoma in dogs, and more information you need to know.
What is Glaucoma in Dogs?
Glaucoma is a condition caused by increased intraocular pressure (IOP) in a dog’s eye. A tonometer is a device for measuring intraocular pressure. When left untreated, a dog can potentially lose some or all of his vision.
The part of the eye called the ciliary body is responsible for producing and draining a watery fluid called the aqueous humor. Sometimes, issues with the drainage of the aqueous humor creates a pressure within the eye. If this pressure keeps increasing, there can be damages to the optic nerve. If the condition worsens, it can result to total blindness.
There are two main types of glaucoma in Dogs—acute and chronic. Acute glaucoma develops suddenly, while chronic glaucoma develops over time.
Hope Center reports that high elevation in the IOP can cause irreversible damage to the retina and optic nerve in just 24 to 48 hours. “As a result, glaucoma is considered an emergency and requires immediate treatment if vision is to be maintained.” There are two types of primary or secondary glaucoma. Glaucoma defines differently depending on the type. So what are the differences?
What’s known as primary glaucoma is an inherited condition and not caused by outside trauma to the eye. The condition “occurs in an animal because it possesses physical or physiolgic traits that predispose the animal to glaucoma,” reports Pet Education. “This is usually predetermined by genetics. For instance, Eyes may have drainage pores that are too small or have naturally narrow angles, which makes it difficult for the fluid to leave the globe.” With primary glaucoma, the condition typically progresses to both eyes, although, as Pet Education points out, “both eyes are rarely affected equally or at the same time. The disease usually occurs in one eye months or even years in before it affects the second one.”
Primary glaucoma most commonly affects dogs aged 3 to 7, but it can occur at any age, reports Hope Center. It’s more common in some dog breeds than others, but Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Beagles, Chow-Chows, Basset Hounds, Dalmatians, and many terriers are all susceptible.
Secondary glaucoma, simply enough, refers to the fact that the disease is caused by, or secondary to, another condition. “A common example is a penetrating wound to the eye,” writes Pet Education on its site. “This often causes inflammation and the fluid may become too thick to flow out through the drainage pores or it might cause scar tissue to form with the drainage angle, itself, closing.”
What Causes Glaucoma in Dogs
According to AnimalEyeCare and Pet Education, a list of other possible causes of secondary glaucoma includes:
- Bleeding in the eye or retinal hemorrhage
- Inflammation in the eye (uveitis)
- Luxation or displacement of the lens
- Attachments or scarring between the iris and lens
- Degeneration of the structure within the drainage angle
- Anything that causes the angle to narrow or close
- Advanced cataracts
- Chronic retinal detachment
How Do You Know if Your Dog Has Glaucoma?
The sooner glaucoma is Diagnosis, the better but there is one problem. It can be difficult to detect, especially in its early stages. Because dogs cannot tell people when they’re experiencing the vision impairment or pain often associated with glaucoma, the condition can go undetected for long periods of time.
Some things to try and keep a lookout for include: Clinical signs
- Pain (the dog may not show signs of this, but keep a lookout for your dog rubbing his eye with his paw, against the furniture, carpet or people.)
- Redness in eyes
- Green or yellow discharge from the eyes
- Dilated pupil that does not react to light
- Bluish-white appearance
- In later stages, an eye will appear large or to bulge out
- Fluttering eye or squinting
- Cloudiness within the cornea and/or increase in the size of the blood vessels in the white portion of the eye
- Sensitively to light
- Loss of appetite
If you suspect that your dog has any sort of eye trouble, including glaucoma, I highly encourage you to take him to your veterinarian right away to prevent the condition and/or pain from worsening. It is quite likely that your regular veterinary may choose to refer you and your dog to a veterinary ophthalmologist, who can start running tests, which, according to VetInfo, may include the following:
- A complete examination, which often includes blood work
- Tonometry, which means testing a dog’s internal eye pressure. It “involves a machine that touches the surface of the dog’s eye. Some dogs require sedation for the process.”
- Additional procedures can determine the extent of any damage to the optic nerve and retina if the internal eye pressures are high.
- A gonioscopy examines the eye’s drainage system. “This requires specialized equipment to determine the condition of the pathway and if the pathway is blocked.”
- If the eye is too opaque for a visual examination, an ultrasound may be necessary.
Medical treatment for Canine Glaucoma
In veterinary ophthalmology, glaucoma is an emergency. If a veterinarian determines that your dog has glaucoma, they can prescribe a treatment plan. Because the disease is painful and progressive, it’s important to start treatment right away. Glaucoma treatment is difficult because it involves treating the disease that causes glaucoma, as well as its severity and type. The objective of glaucoma treatment is to lower eye pressure while simultaneously increasing drainage and providing pain relief (if necessary).
Generally, veterinarians prescribe medications to help achieve these goals. “Most of the therapies are used topically (e.g., ointment in the eye), but some are also given orally. Those given topically often have to be administered three or more times a day,” writes Pet Education. Surgery is another treatment option, particularly in the cases of advanced glaucoma. “The surgical techniques that are accessible are also aiming to relieve the pressure in the eye.,” reports Suite101.
“A laser cyclophotocoagulation destroys the aqueous humor-producing part of the eye. This procedure may help to save the eye if the patient can still see. If the patient is blind and the eye is painful then the eye can be surgically removed (enucleation). During the enucleation the bad eye is removed and the skin sewn shut. The fur will then grow back over where the eye used to be.”
Implants can be put during the surgery If the pet parent wants the appearance of an eye. The most crucial thing is that the pain and symptoms of a dog treat right away. Even if treatment is unsuccessful in restoring eyesight for a dog with blindness, dogs can adjust to blindness quite easily, especially when given guidance and compassion during the process. There is no reason a blind dog cannot continue to live a long, otherwise healthy life with his family.
Can glaucoma in dogs be cured?
The truth is that there is no cure for glaucoma—only management of the pain and worsening of the condition.
Can my dog live with glaucoma?
Glaucoma is painful and progressive, therefore it needs prompt treatment. Longterm medications are required to relieve pain. If not given immediate medical attention, glaucoma may cause complete blindness.
How do you treat glaucoma in dogs eyes?
Vets typically prescribe medications that will alleviate the pressure on the eyes of a dog with glaucoma. This can be topical or oral. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
What triggers glaucoma in dogs?
Glaucoma in dogs is caused by damages to the lens, bleeding and inflammation in the eye, displacement of the lens, attachments or scarring between the iris and lens, and many more.