Author: Simon Bailey (Veterinary Surgeon and Partner of Ardmore Vets in Sudbury and Great Yeldham)
Published: 9th April 2014 10:29
Corneal Ulcer – A very sore eye
A dogs eye is very similar in structure to a human eye and consequently they suffer from a similar range of eye disease. As with a human, because eyes are complicated and delicate structures any problems should be assessed and treated by a vet as soon as possible. Any delay could results in permanent damage and potential blindness. It is better to be safe than sorry.
The cornea is the clear part of the front of the eye through which the coloured iris can be seen; and although the cornea appears to us to be transparent it is composed of several different layers. A corneal ulcer is a loss of the outer layers of cells of the cornea. The loss of these layers are painful regardless of how many layers of cells are lost. Hence the first signs you are likely to see is the eye being tightly closed, often with excessive tear production and if the ulcer becomes infected the discharge produced may be creamy or coloured.
There are a large variety of causes for corneal ulcers but most commonly they are due to some form of trauma or foreign body in or on the eye. Certain breeds are much more prone to ulcers simply because they have large bulbous eyes i.e. pugs. Other breeds can have inherited conditions, which lead to weakening or fragility of the cornea. This may be a factor in the recurrence of a dog’s ulcers.
Simple first aid which can be provided if your dog appears to have a sore closed eye, is to bathe it with cooled boiled water and see if by parting the eyelids there is anything in the eye. However I would always get a vet to assess the eye as there can be significant deterioration over a short time and speed is often key.
Treatment of a corneal ulcer by a vet will depend on the severity of the ulcer, it’s cause and it’s size. This treatment can range from simple eye creams and drops ranging all the way through to surgery, if there is complete or possible penetration of the eyeball.
However what I would emphasise is that even with the mildest discomfort around the eye it should never be ignored as it may progress rapidly and can if severe enough lead to blindness. The simple message is ‘Better safe than sorry’.
Please call for more information in Sudbury or Great Yeldham surgery on 01787 372588