Posts Tagged ‘disorders of the eye’

Cataracts are a common disorder of the eyes, often in aging dogs, although young animals can develop them, too. Cataracts are seen less frequently in cats.

A pet owner’s first indication that their dog or cat has impaired vision may be that the pet has difficulty seeing in low light.

What is a cataract? It is an opaque* area of the lens or its outer covering (capsule.)
[*Not allowing light through.] 

A cataract may be a tiny spot or it may cover the entire lens.
A cataract can develop within a few days or over a number of years.

Cataracts can be hereditary and can lead to blindness.

Breeds often affected* include:

  • miniature poodle
  • American cocker spaniel 
  • miniature schnauzer
  • golden retriever
  • Boston Terrier
  • Siberian husky

[*The complete list is much longer.]

Though rare, cats such as the Persian, Birman, and Himalayan have also been afflicted with hereditary cataracts.

Other causes of cataracts include:

  • aging
  • diabetes
  • electric shock
  • exposure to extreme heat or radiation
  • exposure to toxins
  • injury to the eye
  • poor nutrition as pups and kittens
  • retinal degeneration
  • uveitis [a type of inflammation of the eye]

An examination by a veterinarian can help determine whether changes in the eyes are the result of cataracts, corneal damage, sclerosis [a cloudy appearance, but without vision loss], or another cause. In some cases, further diagnostics by an eye specialist [ophthalmologist] will be recommended.

Is surgery an option? It can be. We are fortunate to have veterinary ophthalmologists in our area who are able to evaluate cataracts for surgical treatment. Not all pets will qualify. In fact, if you are considering surgery for your pet, time is of the essence. As the cataract progresses, the retina and lens can become so damaged that the pet will not regain its sight even if surgery is performed.

What kind of medicine will help? Cataracts cannot be treated with medicine. However, the veterinarian may dispense medication for other disorders of the eye occurring at the same time.

What can I do? Dr. Donald Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian, has several recommendations: 

  • Try to keep furniture where it is; your pet has likely learned to navigate it well and any changes in furniture arrangements will lead to painful run-ins with chairs and tables.
  • Help your pet up and down stairs.
  • Follow your dog into the yard to make sure he doesn’t get lost or “stuck.”
  • Monitor his eyes for any changes in appearance and report changes or concerns to the doctor.

******************************************************************
Resources include:
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult

*******************************************************************
A version of this post originally appeared on Sept. 17, 2012.

Read Full Post »

Cherry eye in a 2 year-old ShihTzu. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic. Used by permission of the owner.

Cherry eye in a 2 year-old ShihTzu. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic. Used by permission of the owner.

It may not be pretty, but the good news about the condition known as cherry eye is that it is typically more of a nuisance than a medical emergency.

Dogs and cats have, in each eye, a nictitating* membrane, which is commonly referred to as a “third eyelid.” You may have noticed the thin, white sheet of tissue that appears to cross the eye diagonally, when your pet blinks.
*Nictitating means winking.

The third eyelid is positioned at the inside corner of the eye, between the outer lids and the eyeball. It helps protect the eye, as a physical barrier and by spreading tears over the surface of the cornea with each eye blink.

The third eyelid also has a gland which produces tears. It is this tear gland that sometimes falls out of place (an event known as a prolapse), swells, and assumes the appearance of a cherry, due to irritation and poor blood circulation.

Cherry eye is more commonly seen in dogs than in cats. Dogs most often affected by cherry eye are Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, Boston Terriers, and ShihTzus. Burmese and Persian cats are thought to be more at risk than other cat breeds. In either species, cherry eye can appear in one or both eyes.

Lucky 2

Notice how the prolapsed tear gland remains in place as the eyeball moves beneath it. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic. Used by permission of the owner.

In some pets, a cherry eye will appear and disappear on its own, at intervals. In others, once the tear gland has prolapsed, it will not return to its proper size and position without surgical intervention.

A popular current surgical technique is the tuck, in which the prolapsed gland is tacked into place with a suture. No surgery is without risk, however; in this case, the tuck may not hold, leading to repeat surgeries.

In the past, when the role of the third eyelid was not as well understood, surgeons removed the gland altogether, which carried the risk that the pet would develop “dry eye” from a lack of sufficient tear production. In the current tuck technique, the gland remains attached, so that it can continue producing tears, which protect the eye.

Although cherry eye is not life-threatening, it can lead to further problems if left untreated. The prolapsed gland may become injured or infected, since it was not designed to be exposed to elements outside the body. As a result of injury or infection, the pet’s eyesight could be harmed.

If you notice a red swelling at the inside corner of your pet’s eye, it could be a prolapsed tear gland. Have your vet check it out to be sure; if it is a cherry eye, your vet will recommend the proper treatment.

*****************************************************************************************************

Want to read more? Check out these articles at Pet MD and VetStreet.

Read Full Post »

Cataracts are a common disorder of the eyes, often in aging dogs, although young animals can develop them, too. Cataracts are seen less frequently in cats.

A pet owner’s first indication that their dog or cat has impaired vision may be that the pet has difficulty seeing in low light.

What is a cataract? It is an opaque* area of the lens or its outer covering (capsule.)
[*Not allowing light through.] 

The cataract may be a tiny spot or it may cover the entire lens.
A cataract can develop within a few days or over a number of years.

Cataracts can be hereditary and can lead to blindness.

Breeds often affected* include:

  • miniature poodle
  • American cocker spaniel 
  • miniature schnauzer
  • golden retriever
  • Boston Terrier
  • Siberian husky

[*The complete list is much longer.]

Though rare, cats such as the Persian, Birman, and Himalayan have also been afflicted with hereditary cataracts.

Other causes of cataracts include:

  • aging
  • diabetes
  • electric shock
  • exposure to extreme heat or radiation
  • exposure to toxins
  • injury to the eye
  • poor nutrition as pups and kittens
  • retinal degeneration
  • uveitis (a type of inflammation of the eye)

An examination by the veterinarian can determine whether visual impairment is the result of cataracts, corneal damage, sclerosis (a cloudy appearance, but without vision loss), or another cause.

Is surgery an option? It can be. We are fortunate to have a group of veterinary ophthalmologists in our area who are able to evaluate cataracts for surgical treatment. Not all pets will qualify. In fact, if you are considering surgery, time is of the essence. As the cataract progresses, the retina and lens can become so damaged that the pet will not regain its sight even if surgery is performed.

What kind of medicine will help? Cataracts cannot be treated with medicine. However, the veterinarian may dispense medication for other disorders of the eye occurring at the same time.

What can I do? Try to keep furniture where it is; your pet has likely learned to navigate it well and any changes in furniture arrangements will lead to painful run-ins with chairs and tables. Help your pet up and down stairs. Follow your dog into the yard to make sure he doesn’t get lost or “stuck.” Monitor his eyes for any changes in appearance and report changes or concerns to the doctor.

******************************************************************
Resources include:
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult

Read Full Post »