Dear Karin,Always phone your vet to check which eye drops to use, as the wrong eye drops can damage your pet’s eye. The most common eye problems that are seen in animals are:
Conjunctivitis is inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the soft pink lining inside the eyelid. When it is inflamed, you may see:
discharge from the corner of the eye which may be pussy or clear
redness of the inner eyelids
swelling or bulging of the inner eyelids
the eyes may be sensitive to light
the eyelids may be half closed
the third eyelid (the fleshy pink part in the corner of the eye) may be swollen or protrude over the eye itself
The most common causes of conjunctivitis in cats are Feline Herpes virus or Feline Chlamydia infection. Together the two are known as “Snuffles” or “Cat Flu” in some countries. Dogs can also get contagious conjunctivitis. If the animal is not showing any other signs of illness, and only has an eye infection, the owner is usually given eye drops to put into their pet’s eyes a few times a day. These eye drops usually contain antibiotics.
Avoid: Boracic acid is not recommended for pet’s that have conjunctivitis.
Ulcers on the eye can be caused by a direct injury to the eye but can also be caused by feline Herpes virus. (You see a conjunctivitis combined with an ulcer on the eye’s surface) Ulcers on the eye are on the layer of the eye known as the cornea, which is the clear covering over the whole surface of the eye, that protects the delicate structures underneath. A hole or graze on the cornea is called an ulcer. Boxer dogs are prone to ulcers that will not heal with eye drops and other conservative treatments, and need surgery done on the cornea in which little striations or tiny cuts are made over the ulcer and cornea, stimulating blood flow and healing of the ulcer. Ulcers are usually diagnosed with a dye called “Fluorescein” which is a luminous orange dye that goes bright green when it stains an ulcer up.
Ulcers that are small and shallow pose no real threat to the eye and uncomplicated uninfected ulcers heal with antibiotic eye drops over about a week. Ulcers that are infected can get worse, and that means larger and deeper. If an ulcer goes too deep, it eats through the whole thickness of the cornea and exposes the delicate parts of the eye underneath. This is an eyeball emergency and will also need surgery – a small area of the conjunctiva can be stitched over the defect in the cornea bringing blood to the area and allowing it to heal. If the ulcer goes right through the cornea, a pink membrane called a descemetocoele will poke out through the hole and if it goes through that membrane then the eyeball can rupture and the whole eye will have to be removed.
Avoid: Any eye drops that contain cortisone as these will make the ulcer far worse
Tears are normally produced by the eye to wash away dirt and bacteria on the surface of the eye, as well as to lubricate the eye’s surface so the eyelids can open and close more easily. There are a number of tear glands around the eye and excess tears drain through the tear duct or lachrymal duct in the corner of the eye down into the back of the nose and throat. Sometimes the tear glands can be attacked by an immune process that stops tears being produced.
If the tears stop being produced the eye dries out and becomes painful and infected. Dry eye is diagnosed by doing a tear test - a soft piece of filter paper with dye marks on it is put into the eye and kept there for up to a minute. A normal eye will tear excessively and the dye will run up the strip. A dry eye doesn’t do that. Animals left without treatment can develop ulcers on their eyes that can rupture through the cornea, and the eyeball has to be removed. It is more a problem in dogs than in cats. The eye is treated initially to get rid of any infections and to heal up ulcers with replacement tears and antibiotics and then stimulated to produce tears again using a drug that suppresses the immune process attacking the tear glands, such as Cyclosporin or Tacrolimus eye drops given a few times a day. Once the infection has cleared and the ulcers have healed, most dogs stay only on the immunosuppressive drops for life but sometimes have to use artificial tears or teargel as well.
Avoid: Missing any treatments of drops as missing treatment can lead to a lot of pain for your pet.
Pannus is a disease that occurs in dogs, often German Shepherds or Pugs. It is a slow inflammation of the cornea that leads to a membrane growing over the eye and eventually causes blindness. It starts as a pink membrane with veins in it and gradually gets darker and eventually becomes completely black. It often starts on one corner of the eye and grows diagonally over the eye over time. It is caused by an immune process in some cases and is also seen in eyes that take a lot of damage, such a breeds with eyes that protrude out like the Pug or in a mild dry eye that has been slightly dry for a long time.
If animals live at a high altitude or are exposed to lots of ultraviolet radiation, it can cause pannus to develop as well. It isn’t painful and is quite easily treated with eye drops, either cortisone based drops such as “Pred Forte” or immunosuppressive eye drops such as Tacrolimus or Cyclosporin. Animals on these eye drops are on treatment for life. Often the cortisone eye drops are used initially to clear the pannus up, and followed by the immunosuppressive drops, to keep it at bay.
Avoid: Missing treatments of eye drops and stick to a strict regimen to get this under control
If the eyeball comes out of it’s socket, it’s an emergency! This usually happens in breeds such as the Pug, Shih Tzu and Pekingese because they tend to have eye sockets that are a lot shallower than for example, the Bull Terrier. If they are attacked by a big dog who bites them round the eye , or struck by a car, the eyeball can literally “pop” out of its socket. The muscles that hold the eye in place can tear as well. The eyeball that is hanging out of its socket is very prone to getting damaged as it is exposed to hair and dirt that it would normally be protected from. It also dries out very quickly without the protection of the eyelids. The large artery and nerve that supply the eye are stretched so the eye receives a poor blood supply during this time.The torn tissues round the eyeball and the poor drainage out of the eye (the vein is also stretched and cannot drain blood out the eye) make the eyeball swell up very quickly. If this happens to your dog......
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