Common eye problems dealt with at Pierre van Ryneveldt animal clinic
Written by Dr Riana Rosslee
Entropion is a condition where the eyelids roll inwards, which can lead to uncomfortable rubbing and damage on the eyes. Certain breeds are prone to this condition like Shar Peis. Treatment involves tacking the eyelids with stitches not later than 4mths of age, if this treatment is not successful, then excess eyelid skin can be removed
Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva. When the conjunctiva is inflamed it becomes visible from under the eyelids as pinkish fleshy tissue. Causes can be any irritation like dust, allergies, virus and bacteria. The condition is treated with eye drops.
Ectropion is the opposite of entropion, which involves the eyelids drooping, leading to the unhealthy exposure of the eyeball, it also makes your pet more prone to develop cherry eye. Bull dogs, spaniels and blood hounds often suffer from ectropion. Corrective surgery is treatment of choice.
Blocked nasolacrimal duct. This duct connects the eye to the nose, this is what keeps your pet’s nose wet…kind of like humans, when we cry, our noses run. If the duct is blocked, the nose can become dry and cracked, or there might be more tear staining at the inner corner of the eye. The ducts can try and be unblocked under general anaesthesia, but can be blocked easily again very quickly, so it’s not always feasible to unblock the ducts permanently.
Dry eye is when the eyes don’t produce enough tears and the eyes dry out. The eyes might have a thick whitish discharge or develop black pigmentation. At the clinic we test the condition by using small little paper strips, that are placed under the eyelids. If your pet has dry eye, they are placed on eye drops for life. Dry eye that is not treated can lead to ulcers and the loss of an eye.
Ulcers is when the outer surface layer of the eye (cornea) has developed a ‘hole’. When this ulcer is deep, the eye may turn bluish white, which is called corneal oedema. Ulcers can develop from fighting, scratches, trauma, viruses, or other eye conditions. Symptoms are usually blinking, increased eye discharge, rubbing the eyes, or refusing to open the eyelids. Your veterinarian will make use of special eye drops to identify the ulcers. These eye drops sticks to the ‘hole’ and will glow green. Conservative treatment involves antibiotic eye drops that does not contain cortisone, pain medication and a head cone to prevent your pet from rubbing or injuring the eye further. In some cases where the ‘holes’ are severe or not healing, surgery is necessary which can be either third eyelid flap, keratotomy or a conjunctival flap. Ulcers that are not treated can lead to severe scarring or the loss of an eye.
Nuclear sclerosis is the white/grey discolouration that can occur in old animals this should not be confused with cataract. The difference is that nuclear sclerosis does not affect an animal’s vision, while a cataract does. No treatment is necessary for nuclear sclerosis.
Cherry eye is the prolapse of the third eyelid gland. The third eyelid gland should sit underneath the eyelid and should not be visible. A cherry eye would look like a pink round mass at the inner corner of your pet’s eye. The cause can be ectropion, irritation or trauma. Surgery is necessary to stitch back the prolapsed third eyelid in place. If left untreated it can lead to ulcers.
Chalazion is a condition where the glands of the eyelids are blocked. It will appear like a small round swelling on the eyelids. Treatment involves medicine to change the consistency of the contents that the glands produce, if unsuccessful, the glands are lanced under general anaesthesia. It’s important that the swelling is not squeezed, this can worsen the condition. Some eye warts/lumps may appear like a chalazion but these should be removed with surgery.
Uveitis is a painful eye condition. The eye can be red, pupil can be small, there can be a change in the colour of the iris (the colour part of the eye) Your veterinarian will determine if your animal suffers from uveitis by using their ophthalmoscope, and eye drops will be given for treatment.
Glaucoma is when the eye pressure is too high. The eyes can become larger in size and be painful. This is an emergency condition, where your pet can lose their eye. The condition, if caught early can be managed with eye drops and will need regular follow-ups.
Cataract is when the lens of an animal becomes white and thus does not permit light through it anymore. Pets start losing vision and can become completely blind when the cataract has matured. If your pet develops a cataract overnight, your pet needs to be checked for diabetes. Cataract surgery can be done in animals, but it must be determined first if the eye is stable. If your pet is losing vision, try keep water and food bowls in the same area they are familiar with, don’t rearrange furniture, keep away from the pool, always make your pet aware that your are approaching.
Prolapsed eye is when the eye is out of its socket. Most commonly caused by trauma. Dogs with prominent eyes and flat faces are prone to this. If the eye still seems viable and vision is not affected it can be attempted to save the eye, but in most cases the eye has to be removed completely, which is called enucleation.