Keeping eyes healthy is important both for pets and humans. The area around the eyes as well as the eyes themselves is a very sensitive area. The cleaner this area is kept the more likely an animal’s eye will stay healthy. Your pet’s eyes are crucial to their safety and well-being. There are many substances and conditions that can threaten your pet’s eye health and understanding the signs of certain problems can help you anticipate and treat these problems before they permanently affect your pet’s vision.
Red eyes can signal many different inflammatory conditions and infectious diseases ranging from conjunctivitis to glaucoma. The most common conditions associated with your pet’s red eyes are below.
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the eye. It’s the most common eye disease in all domestic animals, and it has a number of causes. Conjunctivitis might be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, by a parasite (like ticks) and by allergies. Ticks in particular can transmit a number of parasites that can cause conjunctivitis.
Treatment for conjunctivitis includes keeping the eye clean and eliminating the cause of the inflammation.
Dogs with allergies and purebred cats are most prone to conjunctivitis.
Keratitis causes superficial blood vessels and pigmentation on the eye. It can decrease vision if left untreated. It is a common eye disorder, especially among German shepherds, and the redness is often accompanied by a thick, ropy mucous discharge from the eyes. In severe and chronic cases, the eye surface becomes infiltrated with blood vessels, and may harden because of long term irritation. There may also be ulceration of the eye tissue due to keratitis.
Treatment of keratitis includes tear stimulants and anti-inflammatory medicines. Eye ulcers may require surgical repair.
Most external eye diseases are treated with antibacterial eye drops that must be applied several times a day. Newer technologies that treat eye infections in dogs include a bioadhesive ophthalmic drug insert which can be placed in the eye to avoid the daily treatment and make compliance with treatment easier.
Cherry Eye is a prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid. It is most common among young dogs, especially Pekingese, bulldogs, beagles and cocker spaniels. The gland becomes infected, irritated and inflamed.
Treatment for cherry eye is surgical replacement of the gland.
Scleritis is inflammation of the opaque white outer coat enclosing the eyeball. It may result from parasitic disease like Lyme disease or toxoplasmosis. Untreated, it can result in the loss of the eye. The red area around the eye may develop suddenly, and is usually hard, lumpy and immovable.
Treatment of scleritis is often topical steroids.
Uveitis is inflammation of the uveal tract or tear ducts. It usually results from an underlying disease. Your pet may show signs of eye pain, overflowing tears, sensitivity to light, eyelid spasms and small pupils. Left untreated, it can damage vision and lead to glaucoma. It can also be the first symptom of a more serious, life-threatening disease.
Treatment for uveitis is dependent on the underlying cause.
Glaucoma is an elevation of pressure in the eyeball. Just like in humans, glaucoma can lead to irreversible blindness. Signs of glaucoma include large pupils, cloudy pupils and redness.
Treatment for acute glaucoma should be started immediately and should be directed toward rapidly reducing the pressure before permanent damage occurs.
Breeds most prone to glaucoma are American cocker spaniels, bassets, wire fox terriers, Boston terriers, Siberian huskies, cairn terriers, chow chows, Norwegian elk hounds and miniature poodles.
Cataracts are white spots in the lenses of the eye that impair vision and cause blindness. Cataracts may be genetic, or they may be caused by diabetes mellitus, or by infections like canine herpes, canine parovirus-2 and canine adenovirus-1. They may also be caused by injury to the eye, poor nutrition, radiation therapy or toxins.
Treatment of cataracts is surgical removal if they significantly impair vision.
There are a number of breeds that may inherit a tendency to develop cataracts. They include Miniature Schnauzer, Boston Terrier, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Siberian Husky, American Cocker Spaniel, Old English sheepdog, Standard Poodle, Welsh Springer Spaniel and German Shepherd Dog.
Bleeding in the eye
Bleeding in the eye is usually the result of injury or inflammation. Treatment for the condition depends on the cause.
Herpes viral conjunctivitis
Herpes viral conjunctivitis is extremely common in young kittens, especially those who are dealing with other stresses to their system like fleas, environmental cold and poor nutrition. Outdoor kittens, feral kittens and kittens in shelters are especially prone to feline conjunctivitis.
Watery eyes have many causes. One of the more common is entropion, a condition where the lashes turn inward. The treatment is to clean the eyes carefully with a wet cotton pad and remove any debris from the corner of the eye. The tendency to watery eyes caused by hair and lashes in the eye can best be treated by keeping the top knot tidy in breads with top knots.
Trichiasis is a condition that causes some lashes to grow inward and rub on the surface of the eye. It can eventually cause scarring of the cornea and lead to vision loss.
Treatment for trichiasis is surgical removal of the abnormal lashes.
Jaundice is yellowness in the whites of the eyes. There are many causes for jaundice, and your pet should be seen by a vet to determine the underlying cause. Some possible causes include hepatitis, urinary tract infections, pancreatitis, gallstones, anemia, medications and viral infections.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the disease.
About the Author
Brian Jenkins is a freelance writer who often writes about topics pertaining to the care of pets and health options for pets such as Pet Meds