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Glaucoma in Dogs

Glaucoma is a condition caused by pressure within your pet's eye which can occur due to a number of underlying conditions. Our Renton board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist explains a few of the reasons why glaucoma can occur in your dog, and how primary and secondary glaucoma can be treated. 

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a painful condition characterized by increased intraocular pressure within the eye, caused by inadequate fluid drainage. Glaucoma can progress very quickly, and often leads to the optical nerve and retinal damage in dogs. It is estimated that 40% of dogs will be left blind in the eye which is affected by glaucoma.

If you suspect your dog may have glaucoma, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately to prevent further damage and preserve their vision. Treatment options may include medication, surgery, or a combination of both depending on the severity of the condition.

What causes sudden glaucoma in dogs?

Sudden glaucoma in dogs can be caused by a blockage of fluid drainage from the eye, leading to increased pressure. This increased pressure can damage the optic nerve and result in vision loss if not treated promptly.

Some other causes of sudden glaucoma in dogs can include trauma, inflammation, or certain medications. It is crucial to monitor your dog's eye health and seek prompt veterinary attention if any symptoms of glaucoma arise.

What are the signs and symptoms of glaucoma?

It is possible for dogs that are suffering from primary or secondary glaucoma to exhibit one or more of the following symptoms when they are affected by the condition:

  • Watery discharge from the eye
  • Eye pain (eye rubbing or turning away when being pet)
  • Bulging of the eyeball (whites of eye turn red)
  • Cloudy, bluish appearance to eye
  • Dilated pupil – or pupil does not respond to light
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Swelling of the eye
  • Less desire to play
  • Vision loss

Chronic glaucoma can take some time to develop and begin causing symptoms, but acute glaucoma occurs very suddenly. If your dog is showing any of the symptoms listed above contact your vet immediately or visit the nearest emergency veterinary hospital for urgent care. Early diagnosis and treatment are your dog's best bet for good treatment outcomes.

Are certain breeds pre-disposed to glaucoma?

Yes, certain dog breeds are genetically predisposed to glaucoma, including Cocker Spaniels, Basset Hounds, and Siberian Huskies. These breeds have a higher risk due to their anatomy (such as their shallow eye sockets) and genetics ( which can lead to increased intraocular pressure), making regular eye exams important for early detection and treatment.

How is glaucoma in dogs diagnosed?

Using a device known as a tonometer, your veterinarian will determine the amount of pressure that is present within your dog's eye. 

In the event that your canine companion is experiencing blindness as a consequence of glaucoma, a veterinary ophthalmologist may employ electroretinography in order to ascertain whether or not vision restoration through surgical intervention is feasible.

How is glaucoma in dogs treated?

After the diagnosis has been made, your veterinarian will prescribe medications that will assist in lowering the pressure within the eye as quickly as possible. Immediately lowering the pressure could be an effective method for preventing permanent blindness in certain dogs.

Typically, painkillers are also prescribed in order to help your dog feel more comfortable. Other medications may be prescribed to both promote drainage and decrease fluid production as a way of reducing intraocular pressure.

In many cases surgery will also be an essential part of the treatment for advanced cases of glaucoma. If your dog has permanently lost their vision your vet may recommend surgery to remove the eye in order to relieve pain.

Regular eye examinations will be an essential part of your pet's ongoing care and treatment for glaucoma. Regular appointments allow your vet to monitor symptoms and keep the condition under control over the long term.

How long can a dog live with glaucoma?

The lifespan of a dog with glaucoma can vary depending on the severity of the condition and how well it responds to treatment. With proper management, some dogs can live several years with glaucoma, but in severe cases, the condition may significantly reduce their quality of life and shorten their lifespan. This is because glaucoma can cause pain, vision loss, and potential complications, such as secondary infections, that can impact the overall health of the dog.

Note: Northwest Animal Eye Specialists specializes in treating eye conditions and illnesses. The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical or behavioral advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

If your dog is showing signs of glaucoma, contact Northwest Animal Eye Specialists. Our vets are available to help dogs in need. If your dog has be diagnosed with glaucoma or another serious eye disease, you can also ask your primary care vet for a referral.

New Patients Welcome By Referral

We are accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the eye health of animals. Talk to your vet today about getting a referral to Northwest Animal Eye Specialists serving patients from Renton, Kirkland, and the surrounding areas.

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