Glaucoma in Dogs

Glaucoma in Dogs

Glaucoma is mainly caused by a blockage of the drainage system of the eye. This can be a result of genetic predisposition, injury, inflammation, or misplacement of the eye lens. To learn more about this condition, keep reading...
DogAppy Staff
Glaucoma is an eye problem, not only common in humans but in dogs as well. Under normal conditions, the eye contains a fluid called aqueous humor. The basic function of this fluid is to maintain pressure in the eye, known as intraocular eye pressure. It is because of the presence of this fluid that the eye exists in a defined shape. The body keeps adding and removing fluid from inside the eye to maintain the intraocular pressure at an optimum level. When this pressure goes beyond the optimum limit, the condition is medically termed as glaucoma. It can cause adverse effects on vision, including total blindness. The retina and optic nerves are highly sensitive to an increase in intraocular pressure. Glaucoma is very painful for dogs, and needs immediate medical attention.

Symptoms
The following are some commonly observed symptoms of glaucoma in dogs.
  • Pain in the dog's eye
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Green or yellow discharge from the eye
  • Cloudiness within the cornea
  • Delayed reaction to the brightness of the light
  • Discoloration of the eye
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • One of the eyes appears to be larger than the other
Causes
The basic cause of glaucoma is the improper functioning of the eye's drainage system. It gets clogged, and is thus no longer able to remove the fluid being produced in the eye. The result is an increase in intraocular pressure. The most common causes of this condition are inflammation of the eye, physical injuries that thicken the eye fluid, and a misplaced the eye lens blocking the drainage pathway.

Types of Glaucoma
There are two types of glaucoma: primary and secondary. The primary type occurs in dogs that have a genetic predisposition to the disease. The drainage pores of the dog's eye may either be too small or angled incorrectly. This eventually results in an accumulation of fluid in the eye.

Diagnosis
The vet will perform a complete blood work and physical examination of the dog. With the help of the information thus obtained, and considering the medical history of the dog, he will determine the type of glaucoma present. The veterinary ophthalmologist will frequently monitor the intraocular pressure and evaluate the drainage pathway. The techniques used to do this are tonometry and gonioscopy respectively. He may also conduct ultrasonography of the dog's eye. The data thus collected will help him to identify misplaced lenses, tumors, or damage to the optic nerves.

Treatment
Both medical and surgical treatments are available for this condition. The former aims at decreasing the production of fluid within the eye, increasing the outward flow from the eye, and treating inflammation.

Treating glaucoma surgically also aims at decreasing the fluid pressure within the eye. A laser cyclophotocoagulation is done to remove or destroy the part of the eye that produces the fluid. The eligible candidate for this surgery is a dog whose eye is still functional, i.e., a dog who is not blind. In case the dog has lost vision in the affected eye, then the complete removal of the eye, called enucleation, is considered. It relieves the dog from extreme pain due to glaucoma.

If your dog has a genetic predisposition for the disease, you can do nothing to prevent it. Otherwise, the condition can be prevented by regularly getting your dog's eyes checked for intraocular pressure by an ophthalmologist.

This is a progressive disease, and eventually affects both the eyes. It is an emergency, and needs to be treated immediately, as there is a potential risk of a complete loss of vision. If you observe the given symptoms in your canine friend, take him to a veterinarian immediately.