Glaucoma in Dogs and Cats: What You Should Know

Glaucoma in dogs and cats

Typically, we think of humans developing glaucoma, but not dogs or cats. However, pets do suffer from glaucoma too. If left untreated a dog or cat with glaucoma can lose partial vision or go completely blind. If you suspect your dog or cat has glaucoma, take it to a veterinarian right away. While glaucoma is not reversible, it is treatable. An early plan of treatment can help save your pet’s vision.

What is Glaucoma in dogs and cats? According to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, “glaucoma is increased pressure within the eye leading to permanent vision impairment. It is an inherited condition in many breeds of dogs and some cat breeds. It also occurs secondary to other ocular disorders such as inflammation, tumors, trauma in all species.”* Glaucoma in dogs and cats can affect one eye or both eyes.

Two Types of Glaucoma – Certain breeds of dogs and cats develop primary glaucoma which is determined by a pet’s genetic predisposition to developing this disease. In instances of primary glaucoma, the disease can affect both eyes. Secondary glaucoma which is the more common type occurs due to another condition. A wound to the eye, bleeding in the eye, inflammation, a narrowing or closing of the drainage angle are some examples of secondary glaucoma.

Symptoms of Glaucoma in dogs and cats – pain, a dilated pupil, cloudiness, increase in the size of the blood vessels in the white portion of the eye, the afflicted eye is larger than the regular eye or it protrudes. You may have also noticed that your pet is constantly rubbing its eye.

Treating Glaucoma in dogs and cats – Reduce pressure in the eye, reduce the amount of fluid buildup, increase drainage and provide pain relief are the main objectives when treating a dog or cat with glaucoma. Most cases of glaucoma in pets are treated with topical or oral medication.

Your veterinarian might recommend the following medications to treat glaucoma in pets:

Dorzolamide HCL Ophthalmic Solution, Timolo Opthalmic Solution, or Acetazolamide Tablet.

If these types of treatment do not work, surgery is a recommended alternative.  The use of a laser to destroy certain cells in the ciliary body (or Cyclophotocoagulation) is one surgical procedure. The other requires inserting drainage tubes to help move the fluid out of the eye’s anterior chamber. This procedure is referred to as Gonioimplantation. Your veterinarian will be able to determine which procedure will be the most effective for your pet’s condition.

To sum it up: Like humans, dogs and cats can develop glaucoma. Symptoms your pet is suffering from glaucoma are a dilated pupil, cloudiness, increase in the size of the blood vessels in the white portion of the eye, the afflicted eye is larger than the regular eye or it protrudes, or your pet is constantly rubbing its eye. Pets might develop glaucoma in two ways: one is heredity and it is associated with certain breeds; the other is through an eye wound or an infection. Topical or oral medications are the most common way to treat glaucoma in dogs and cats. If your pet does not respond to this type of treatment, the veterinarian could recommend surgery. Cyclophotocoagulation is the use of a laser to destroy cells in the ciliary body. Gonioimplantation is the insertion of drainage tubes to help alleviate the buildup of fluid. If your pet starts to exhibits signs of glaucoma, do not waste time. Take it to a veterinarian at once. Glaucoma can lead to blindness in the affected. Glaucoma cannot be permanently eradicated, but it can be treated.

*Source: Ophthalmology: Medial Conditions. (2014) http://www.vet.cornell.edu/hospital/Services/Companion/Ophthalmology/conditions   Accessed on April 29, 2016.

Has your dog or cat suffered from glaucoma? If yes, how was it treated? 

Please let us know in the comments section.

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