Alison Laurie-Chalmers, Senior Consultant, Crown Vets Inverness
Although eye problems can occur in any species and breed, they can be found more commonly in flat faced, short nosed breeds and their crosses, such as Boxers, Pugs, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and Persian cats and Exotic Shorthaired cats. Their facial shape and sometimes protruding eyes tends to predispose them to more problems.
Some eye conditions that can affect your pet’s eye health are:
Conjunctivitis: This happens when the lining inside the eyelid becomes red, inflamed and very painful. It may be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, injury, allergic reaction or a foreign body in the eye or conjunctivae.
Dry Eye: This is also known as “Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca” "KCS" and is caused by inadequate tear production. Symptoms of dry eye include a thick, yellowish eye discharge and repeated chronic eye infections.
Ectropion: A condition where the eyelid rolls outwards giving the impression of ‘droopy eyes’. This can cause the eyes to become very dry which can be painful and lead to conjunctivitis and keratitis.
Entropion: A condition where the eyelid rolls inwards, which causes irritation to the eye structure and its surrounding tissues because the eyelashes and hair rub against the surface of the eye and this can then lead to corneal ulceration.
Foreign Body: Occasionally foreign objects such as tiny pieces of grit, thorns or other plant substances may become lodged in the eye causing pain and irritation.
Tear duct obstruction: the ducts that normally drain tears from the eyes become blocked resulting in tear overflow onto the face.
Tear overflow: Tears may leak from the corner of the eye, causing tear staining or a build-up of crusty discharge that gets caught up in the animal’s hair below their eyes. This can lead to inflammation and infection.
Corneal Ulcers: The surface of the eye can become damaged or ulcerated following injury or infection.
Cataract: Opacity in the lens in the eye. Similarly to humans, this problem can occur with old age, trauma or disease.
Cherry Eye: This looks like a small red, inflamed mass in the corner of one or both of the eyes. It is caused when the third eyelid/"nictitating membrane" of the eye prolapses allowing the membrane to flip up and over. It can be quite common in young dogs.
Eyes are very delicate and sensitive organs and when problems occur they can be accompanied by a number of symptoms:
- Your pet is blinking more
- Your pet seems to be squinting or the eye looks half closed
- Your pet is rubbing the eye (either with a paw or rubbing against something)
- The eyes are producing more tears than usual
- There is a crusty discharge around the eye
- The eye or surrounding area looks red or inflamed
- The eye itself looks to have a scratch, mark or something in it
- There is any eye discharge (clear or purulent)
- The eye looks cloudy or discoloured
- The eye is bulging
- The third eyelid is visible
- Your pet has started to bump into things
If you notice any of these symptoms of eye disease do contact us for an appointment and a thorough eye examination. Your pet may be referred on from there to a Veterinary Ophthalmologist for specialist eye treatment or surgery.