Clinical Signs of Canine Glaucoma

by Betty Lewis
Basset hounds are one of the breeds affected by primary glaucoma.

Basset hounds are one of the breeds affected by primary glaucoma.

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Nearly 2 percent of dogs in North America suffer from glaucoma, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual. Glaucoma, basically, is increased pressure in the eye. The condition often leads to blindness; approximately 40 percent of dogs with glaucoma are blind in the affected eye within the first year of diagnosis, regardless of treatment.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when the eye's fluid is produced faster than it can be removed. If Buster's eye is healthy, the fluid leaves the eye at the angle formed by the cornea and iris. If the fluid builds up, the intraocular pressure in his eye increases, causing his optic nerve and retina to degenerate. Primary glaucoma is a hereditary condition affecting basset hounds, cocker spaniels, Samoyeds, beagles and other breeds. Secondary glaucoma occurs as a result of other eye disease or eye trauma.

Primary Glaucoma Signs

In the early stages of primary glaucoma, Buster will experience high pressure in his eye. Clinical signs include blinking, redness of the blood vessels in the whites of the eye and a cloudy appearance in the front of the eye. Also, the eyeball recedes back into the head and the pupil doesn't respond to light. If Buster has a more advanced version of primary glaucoma, his eyeball may be enlarged and he's experiencing an obvious loss of his vision.

Secondary Glaucoma Signs

If Buster's suffered an eye injury or infection, he may show signs of secondary glaucoma. Like primary glaucoma, secondary glaucoma presents with high pressure within the eye, a cloudy appearance and redness of the blood vessels in the whites of the eye. Secondary glaucoma also shows inflammatory debris in the front of the eye and potential pupil constriction. His iris may stick to the cornea or lens. Buster may experience headaches, which he shows by pressing his head to relieve the pressure he feels, loss of appetite and a decreased interest in play or socializing.

Treating Glaucoma

If you suspect your pooch has glaucoma, he should pay a visit to the vet. The vet will test Buster's eye pressure and potentially refer him to a veterinary ophthalmologist for further diagnosis and treatment, particularly if the signs appeared suddenly. A variety of drugs are available to lower the pressure in Buster's eye in an effort to keep his vision. If the glaucoma is secondary, the underlying cause must be treated as well. One process, cyclocryotherapy, uses cold temperatures to kill cells producing intraocular fluid, which may slow down the progression of the disease. If you've caught the disease in time, Buster will need regular vet visits to monitor his eye pressure. More than half of dogs with primary glaucoma develop complications in the second eye within eight months, so it's vital to keep in contact with your vet.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Betty Lewis is a writer and editor specializing in pet care, animals, careers and emergency management. She previously ran an animal shelter, where she also served as a kennel attendant and dog trainer. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, an M.B.A. and a master's degree in professional studies.

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