Old age can get the best of all of us, even our poor dogs. As the years pass by, our bodies start to go. Things break down and parts of us don’t work the way they are meant to. Yes, it’s sad, but it’s the inevitable thing that we all have to prepare for. One of the first things to take a hit are the eyes. Reading a book or watching cat videos on Youtube can become a challenge once the eyes start to go. Without glasses, seeing things near or far turns into an annoying inconvenience. But hey, at least we get to wear glasses to help with our vision. Dogs don’t get the luxury of a stylish pair of reading glasses.
There are a number of eye conditions in dogs. The six most common are:
- Corneal Ulcer
- In-Grown Eyelids
- Prolapsed Eyelid
- Tear Stains
Old age, medical conditions, or foreign objects making contact with their face can all cause your dog to have issues with their eyes.
Below, we will go into detail on the six most common eye conditions in dogs and what you can do about it.
The Most Common Eye Conditions in Dogs
If your dog begins to develop cataracts, you should be able to easily spot them most of the time. However, cataracts can be small, as small as a pinpoint even. The lens of an eye focuses on light, similar to the lens of a camera. When the cells and protein that make up the lens of your eye are damaged, cataracts can occur.
The most common cause of cataracts in dogs is genetics. It is passed down from their parents and their ancestors before them. The most common cause in the human eye is when they are exposed to ultraviolet light. This does occur in dog eyes as well, but mostly in old age.
If a dog inherits hereditary cataracts, they will most likely start to form between the ages of 1 and 5. Vision deficits occur when cataracts begin to cover over 75% of the eye.
Unfortunately, cataracts don’t go away on their own. If they get to the point where your dog’s vision is being impaired, surgery is an option for removing cataracts. This can be an ongoing battle as it is possible for cataracts to pop back up after being removed. Routine visits to the vet and a schedule of drops will help with any post-surgery issues.
In the eye, there is a transparent membrane that makes up the entire front surface. This is known as the cornea. The window of the eye. The three major parts of the cornea are the:
- Descemet’s Membrane
This is important to know for understanding corneal ulcers. When your dog gets a corneal ulcer, it was most likely caused by a wound or abrasion to the surface epithelium of the eye. If there is a bacterial infection, then your dog is most likely suffering from an ulcer in the stroma. If the ulcer extends to the Descemet’s membrane, it is considered a severe condition and requires immediate attention.
Corneal ulcers most commonly occur from blows to the eyes. Playing a little too rough with other dogs or a cat claw to the face can end with a corneal ulcer. Even something as little as shampoo or dust and debris may also cause a corneal ulcer over time.
Luckily, corneal ulcers can heal over time, depending on the severity. Antibiotics and pain medication can be given to your dog to help with the inflammation and discomfort. If the ulcer is severe, daily eye drops and even surgery may be necessary for removal.
Another cause of corneal ulcer not mentioned above is when your dog has in-grown eyelids or entropion. Entropion occurs when a piece of your dog’s eyelid is either folded or inverted inwards towards the eye. This can cause discomfort for your dog as the hair and eyelashes can scratch and claw at the surface of the eye.
Unfortunately, the only treatment for in-grown eyelids is to have them surgically corrected. This process involves removing a section of the skin to reverse with the rolling of the affected eyelid. In most cases, this involves not one, but two surgeries to completely correct. It is all worth, however, as your dog can then live a happy, more comfortable life.
If you have ever noticed a pink mass forming on your dog’s eye, then what you are seeing is a prolapsed eyelid, or what is commonly referred to as a “cherry eye.” Cherry eyes form in the third eyelid of your dog and are most likely the cause of a weakness in the gland’s attachment to the dog’s eye. It isn’t exactly painful for your dog. However, swelling and irritation may occur, causing your dog some discomfort.
When treating a prolapsed eyelid, there are several different methods depending on the severity. For some of the less severe cases, eye drops and a warm, moist cloth will do the trick. If it gets worse, it may require surgery to remove.
Another eye issue that is common with dogs is tear stains. Tear stains occur most with dogs that tend to tear a lot. No brainer, right? These tears, however, contain a substance called porphyrin. When left on the face for too long, porphyrin can cause the discoloration of the fur and skin. If left unchecked for too long, the discoloration can be permanent.
One of the best methods for preventing and getting rid of tear stains is merely wiping it off once or twice a day. The longer you let them sit, the worse it will get. There are also many products and treatments available as well as natural remedies like coconut oil.
Last, but not least, is glaucoma. Glaucoma occurs when a substantial amount of pressure is placed on the eye, causing an insufficient amount of fluid drainage. Unless treated, glaucoma can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve and even blindness. Some indicators can help identify glaucoma, such as:
- Excessive Blinking
- Receding Eyeball
- Cloudy or Redness of the Eye
- Dilated Pupils
- Vision Loss
Unfortunately, vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible. But if you can catch it early enough, there are a couple of ways to treat it. Eye drops, pills, and surgery can save your dog’s vision if you catch it in the early stages.
Managing (and Preventing) Future Eye Conditions
Some eye problems are hereditary and will develop in your dog no matter what you do. However, some problems can actually be managed and prevented from happening again in the future if you take the right steps.
Keep The Eyes Clean
The first step to prevent your dog from developing eye issues in the future is to make sure you clean the eyes. Most dog owners do a great job grooming their dogs. However, the two most common areas that don’t get much attention are the eyes and ears.
Cleaning the eyes is a simple process (although your dog will probably hate it). Pour a tiny bit of saline solution on a cotton ball and begin cleaning around the dogs eyes. Make sure you don’t actually touch the yes, simply clean around them. Make sure you get rid of all the dust, dirt, and “eye boogers”.
Get Some Doggles
Doggles stand for dog goggles. These aren’t required for most dogs, but some dogs that are a little too adventurous and always getting into things they shouldn’t be getting into might need a pair of doggles when left alone. These will protect their eyes from foreign objects until you get home.
Make Carrots a Go To Snack
Carrots contain both Vitamin A and Carotene, both of which are excellent for vision. Most dogs love carrots so you shouldn’t have any issues getting your dog to snack on them. However, if you can’t seem to get them to enjoy carrots, you can replace it with some blueberries (but don’t go overboard).
Should You Visit The Vet?
When it comes to eye conditions in dogs, it’s usually best to see the Vet ASAP to figure out what’s going on. Some conditions can cause permanent blindness if they aren’t treated on time. The last thing you want is to delay the vet visit only to find out it’s too late and your dog is permanently blind.
A lot of dogs, like humans, have eye trouble over the years. Some hereditary, some caused by injuries, and some are just bad luck. With every case of eye issue, the most important thing is to get them medical attention as early as possible. The quicker you get a diagnosis, the quicker you can treat it.
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