Our pet’s eyes are pretty important. They are one of the most delicate organs, and if you enjoy looking at beautiful artwork comprising a tapestry of colors, ask me to help you take a look at the view through your pet’s pupil during your next visit.
For the most part, our pet’s eyes allow them to view the world, are self-cleaning, and are protected by a number of reflexes that keep injuries to a minimum. Here are a few things to remember to help your pet have healthy pain-free vision.
The outside surface of the eye is called the cornea. It should always be transparent and have no spots or cloudy areas. If the cornea is scratched it is painful, resulting in squinting, tearing, and sometimes cloudiness in the affected eye. Getting a “foreign body” (a piece of weed, seed, etc.) behind the eyelid causes the same response. Scratches or “ulcers” (little craters that are infected) on the cornea are probably the most common eye problem that I treat. It often requires a special stain to actually see a scratch on the cornea. It’s important to treat corneal scratches and ulcers as soon after they develop as possible. The longer that they are allowed to continue the deeper they get, and the more difficult (and expensive) they are to treat.
Some of our pets have a normal amount of tearing that does not indicate a problem. It’s important to get a feel for how much eye discharge accumulates during a normal day so that we recognize when there is a change that may indicate a problem. Some breeds of dogs have bulging eyes that have quite a bit of normal daily discharge. In these breeds the eyelids (which act as windshield wipers) can’t do a 100% effective job of washing the eye off each time the animal blinks, resulting in additional tearing and accumulating discharge. This is not a problem, and owners can help avoid discomfort by cleaning the discharge away once or twice a day with a soft cloth moistened with warm, clean water.
Some eye problems can be somewhat seasonal or age related. Cats tend to come to us more frequently with corneal injuries during the breeding season (January to June) due to fighting. We also see more dogs with corneal injuries or foreign bodies in their eyes during the hunting seasons. Also, cataracts are common in dogs over 6 years of age.
In addition to injuries to the cornea and foreign bodies, our pets can be affected by conditions such as glaucoma, detached retina, and a number of other problems. The main thing to remember is that if you see your pet squinting, if there is an increased amount of tearing, or if you notice any cloudiness on the surface of the eye, you should call your veterinarian on an emergency basis.
And don’t forget to ask about looking into your pet’s eyes with an ophthalmoscope at your next visit to All Pets! Assuming that your pet holds still, the view is magnificent!!