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Laser Surgery for Glaucoma: Pros & Cons

Laser Surgery for Glaucoma: Pros & Cons

Glaucoma is an irreversible condition that can cause blindness in cats and dogs. Today, our Renton veterinary ophthalmologists discuss glaucoma in pets and how it is treated with laser surgery.

Glaucoma in Pets

Glaucoma is one of the most common causes of blindness in dogs and cats. Fluids build within the eye, causing increased pressure and eventually irreversible damage to the optic nerve and retina.

There are two types of glaucoma: Primary and secondary. 

Primary Glaucoma

Primary glaucoma is the result of abnormal anatomy. Specifically, the opening of the ocular outflow pathway (iridocorneal angle) is too narrow. It's an inherited, relatively rare, and often a breed-related condition that is present from birth. It is almost always bilateral, meaning both eyes are affected. 

While primary glaucoma is present from birth, true glaucoma typically develops years later. 

Secondary Glaucoma

More common than primary glaucoma, secondary glaucoma may develop in one or both eyes. However, it's not typically inherited and is quite random.

The most frequent cause is uveitis - severe inflammation in the eye that creates protein and other debris that obstructs drainage ducts in the eye, allowing a buildup of fluid that creates excessive pressure. By the time clinical signs are detected, substantial vision loss has likely occurred.

The disease is caused by an obstruction preventing fluid from properly draining from within the eye. Without proper drainage, pressure builds up. Glaucoma affects overall eye health. 

Symptoms of Glaucoma

Symptoms of this eye disease differ somewhat in animals than from glaucoma in people. Check your pet's eyes for these telltale signs:

  • Enlarged or dilated pupils
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Guarding the eyes
  • Vision problems 
  • Bluish or foggy cornea 
  • Redness
  • Pain in the eye
  • Blindness

Your veterinarian can diagnose this problem during an examination.

Treating Glaucoma With Laser Surgery

The options for treating glaucoma with laser surgery include Transscleral or Endoscopic Diode Laser Cyclophotocoagulation. During laser surgery, a highly focused beam of light is used to break down, cut, or destroy tissue. The laser is applied to the eye's ciliary body, decreasing fluid production, and therefore reducing pressure.

This type of procedure is recommended when medicines fail to manage vision loss as a result of severe glaucoma and is performed more frequently than conventional surgery for this eye disease. 

There are some pros and cons of laser surgery for glaucoma. 

Pros

  • Vision loss can often be postponed, maintaining vision and controlling glaucoma for months to years
  • Less injury to tissues
  • Less bleeding 
  • Proven to benefit cases of canine and feline glaucoma when used with medication

Cons

  • Not a permanent cure

Laser therapy is not intended to replace medications for glaucoma, but is performed as an addition to medical therapy.

Although we do not perform this surgery here at Northwest Animal Eye Specialists, our vets would be more than happy to refer you to a veterinary office and/or veterinary ophthalmologist to have your cat or dog cared for.

Possible Side Effects of Laser Surgery for Glaucoma

Side effects of laser treatment for glaucoma in cats and dogs include potential post-operative intraocular bleeding, uveitis (inflammation), corneal ulcers, and spikes in pressure. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

Is your cat or dog showing signs of glaucoma? Contact our Renton vets to have your pet diagnosed and cared for.

New Patients Welcome By Referral

Northwest Animal Eye Specialists is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the eye health of animals. Talk to your vet today about getting a referral to our Renton or Kirkland clinics.

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