Pets regularly suffer from a slew of eye conditions that can cause redness, excessive tearing, and discomfort. Without prompt treatment, the cornea or other ocular structures can be damaged, so observing and diagnosing the primary problem is important to your pet’s eye health. Pets who are flat- or wrinkly-faced may be more prone to developing eye problems, and should be monitored closely for squinting, tearing, irritation, or pain, which may indicate they’ve developed one of the following common eye conditions in pets.
Entropion in pets
Some pets have eyelids that roll inward. This condition, which is more common in dogs than cats, is called entropion. The hair on the pet’s eyelid rubs on the eye’s surface, causing pain, increased tear production, corneal ulcers, or scarring. Entropion is often a congenital issue, and is commonly seen in dogs with excessive facial skin, like Labradors, Newfoundlands, bloodhounds, mastiffs, basset hounds, and Great Danes. Entropion signs—squinting, and excessive tearing—typically develop in pets under a year old. After the pet has finished growing, surgery can be performed to fix the abnormal eyelid anatomy by removing a small slice of the eyelid.
Cherry eye in pets
Cherry eye, or prolapse of the third eyelid gland, is rare in cats, but common in dogs, especially in certain breeds, like bulldogs, cocker spaniels, Boston terriers, shih tzus, and Lhasa apsos. Dogs and cats have a third eyelid located inside the lower lid, often referred to as the nictitating membrane. This third eyelid contains a gland that produces most of the eye’s protective tear film. Normally, this gland is out of sight, but weak ligaments can cause the gland to prolapse, or pop out, and sit on the eye’s surface. Cherry eye is easily identifiable by the smooth, round, pink mass that appears on the lower eyelid in the corner closest to the nose. To prevent the condition from recurring, surgery is generally needed, to create a deeper pocket where the gland can sit.
Eyelid growths in pets
Numerous masses that grow on your pet’s eyelids can become large enough to cause corneal damage, or other ocular issues. Growths can be benign or cancerous, so you should schedule an appointment at the first sign of an abnormal eyelid mass. Additionally, a smaller mass is easier to remove than one that has grown into a large portion of the eyelid.
Cataracts in pets
Like people, pets can develop cataracts, whether because of age, diabetes, an hereditary factor, or another health condition. Advanced cataracts are easy to see in pets, because the cloudy, opaque cataract is visible in the lens, which normally is clear. Cataracts block light from reaching the back of the eye, and your pet will have difficulty seeing, especially at night. Without surgical removal, cataracts can increase the eye pressure, leading to glaucoma. Cataracts may also cause lens luxation, a condition in which the lens floats out of place.
Dry eye in pets
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), or dry eye, develops when the tear glands produce fewer tears than usual. Insufficient tears can cause serious problems, including corneal ulcers, chronic mucus drainage from the eyes, and pain. Distemper or an injury near a tear-producing gland can cause KCS in pets. You’ll notice the following signs if your pet has developed KCS:
- Sticky, mucoid ocular discharge
- Eye inflammation
- Squinting or pawing at the eyes
- Hazy corneas
KCS treatment may include administration of an artificial tear solution, or a medication that stimulates tear production. In severe cases, surgery that redirects a duct carrying saliva to moisten the eye is an option.
Corneal wounds in pets
The cornea is a clear, skin-like tissue covering the eye’s surface that can be easily damaged. Trauma, poor tear production, or abnormal ocular anatomy can create corneal ulcers and other wounds, plus the problematic eye may be red, inflamed, and draining excessively. Your pet will rub the affected eye, or squint in pain. Treatment for corneal wounds involves preventing or treating infections with antibiotic eye drops or ointments, managing pain, and allowing the cornea time to heal. In severe cases, surgery or other advanced treatments may be needed to protect or repair the cornea, and promote healing.
Conjunctivitis in pets
The conjunctiva are the mucous membranes that cover the inside of your pet’s eyelids, both sides of the third eyelid, and some parts of the eyeball. Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, means inflammation of the conjunctiva, which will be painful, and reddened and swollen, with eye drainage. Often appearing secondary to a disease, conjunctivitis may develop because of physical irritation, infections, and allergic reactions. Depending on the cause, a saline eye flush or antibiotic eye medications can resolve the inflammation.
Eyelash disorders in pets
Trichiasis, distichiasis, and ectopic cilia are eyelash disorders that can develop in pets. Trichiasis is the inward growth of eyelashes. Distichiasis occurs when an eyelash grows from an abnormal spot on the eyelid. Ectopic cilia are single or multiple hairs that grow through the inside of the eyelid. All these eyelash conditions can damage the conjunctival cornea, so surgical eyelid correction, or removal of the offending eyelashes is typically recommended, to protect the eye’s delicate surfaces.
If your furry pal’s eyes are causing discomfort, contact our Countryside Veterinary Hospital team for an appointment.