Vision is an incredibly important sense for humans and animals alike. While blindness does not signify the end of life, we want to protect our senses and you should protect your pet’s vision as well. Any time you think your pet may be suffering from some kind of eye problem, it is important to get it checked by a veterinarian right away. Cataracts, pink eye, dry eye, glaucoma, retinal degeneration, and ocular discharge are common conditions that can affect cats and dogs.
Let’s take a moment to discuss some of the most common eye ailments.
Both cats and dogs can suffer from red eyes. This condition occurs when blood vessels in the sclera, cornea, or lining of the eyeball and eyelids become enlarged. Red eyes may also be the symptom of more serious eye conditions like glaucoma or diseases of the eye socket. Have a veterinarian check for possible illnesses if your pet suffers from red eyes and always make sure to keep your pet’s eyes clean to prevent inflammation and discomfort.
More formally known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KIS), dry eyes are a condition marked by decreased tear production. As the cornea and conjunctiva dry out because of a lack of watery tears, they become inflamed and sore. This can cause scarring and pigmentation on the cornea which may ultimately affect vision.
While not a disease in and of itself, ocular discharge is one of the most common symptoms of eye disease or infection. Depending on the ailment, discharge may have a sudden or gradual onset and may be watery, mucusy, or bloody. More ocular discharge would indicate a more serious eye disease or infection and if your pet suffers from prolonged ocular discharge it is always best to have it checked by a vet.
At some point or another we’ve all heard about cataracts. In most cases, our parents or grandparents have been diagnosed with cataracts and likely required surgery to repair the condition. What might shock you to learn is that dogs can also suffer from cataracts. In fact, cataracts are one of the most common eye diseases in dogs and they can affect any breed at any age.
Dog cataracts are caused by the degradation of fibres in the lens of the eye. Most commonly a genetic condition, cataracts may either be congenital, meaning the condition is present from birth, or early onset, meaning the condition develops at a young age. While some breeds are at a higher risk for inheriting cataracts (namely Cocker Spaniels, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labs, Siberian Huskies, Standard Poodles, Boston Terriers, and Mini Schnauzers), the fact remains that cataracts can be developed by any breed of dog. Indeed, other conditions have been known to lead to cataracts and even poisons, trauma, or infections can cause cataracts. Furthermore, certain medical conditions like diabetes can also increase the likelihood that your dog will suffer from cataracts.
Luckily, there are treatment options available for dogs with cataracts. For the most part, surgical repair or replacement of the lens will be required to restore you dog’s vision but the treatment is not 100% effective. Unfortunately, while the surgery can vastly improve your dog’s eyesight there is no current treatment to restore vision completely. Moreover, the cost of cataract surgery for dogs can be prohibitively high but because of its importance for maintaining your dog’s quality of life it should not be avoided. If you suspect your dog is suffering from cataracts, speak to your veterinarian about treatment options. Dog cataracts are a natural and relatively common eye disease and despite surgery as the primary treatment option, the condition can be managed.