As humans, we become predisposed to certain medical conditions as we age. This goes the same for our pets. Glaucoma, for example, is a condition that affects both humans and dogs, and one that left untreated can result in permanent damage to the optic nerves. Some breeds of dogs have a genetic predisposition for glaucoma, including Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, Poodles, Jack Russell Terriers, Great Danes, and Siberian Huskies.While the disease can affect other breeds as well, it’s not as common. For more information about glaucoma in dogs, or to schedule a glaucoma screening test for your pet, contact Animal Medical Center today at (814) 443-6979.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease characterized by a buildup of pressure inside the eye, which can cause damage to the optic nerve, a nerve that transmits information from the eye to the brain. In a healthy eye, a clear fluid is produced that nourishes the eye’s tissues and helps the eye maintain its shape. This fluid is meant to drain back into the bloodstream, but when this process is disrupted, there is an imbalance between the production of the fluid and its drainage. Pressure begins to build up in the eye, which can damage its internal structure and cause other problems. This buildup of pressure in the eye can also be extremely painful in dogs, which is why regular glaucoma tests are so important. Some common symptoms of glaucoma in pets include the following:

  • Increased pressure within the eye
  • Cloudy appearance in eye
  • Inflammatory debris visible in the front of the eye
  • Dilated pupil, or pupil does not respond to light
  • Vision loss
  • Redness of blood vessels in the whites of eyes
  • Possible sticking of the iris to the cornea or lens
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pressing their head against something to relieve a headache

Glaucoma tends to worsen over time, and, without treatment, the disease can result in vision loss and total permanent blindness within just a few years. Unfortunately, even with treatment, 40% of dogs affected by glaucoma will become blind in the affected eye within the first year.

Importance of Glaucoma Screening

Pain associated with glaucoma is more severe in dogs than in humans. However, animals don’t show pain the same way we do, which is why glaucoma can be difficult to detect in your pet. Also, because pets are able to compensate incredibly well for vision loss in one eye, you may never even realize that your dog is half-blind. If the disease remains unnoticed or untreated for a long period of time, the optic nerve may become damaged beyond repair. In this case, surgery may be necessary. On the other hand, if the disease is caught early during a glaucoma screening, your veterinarian may be able to manage the condition with medications and regular visits.

How to Test for Glaucoma

There are many different ways to test for glaucoma in dogs. First, your veterinarian will do a physical examination using a tonometer on the surface of the eye. This tool tests the pressure within the eyes. If the glaucoma began suddenly, your veterinarian may refer your pet to a veterinary ophthalmologist, who will perform a gonioscopy to measure the anterior of the eye. The specialist may also perform an electroretinography to determine whether the affected eye will remain blind despite treatment. In some cases, glaucoma may only occur in one eye. In this case, steps can be taken to prevent the unaffected eye from developing the disease.

Contact Animal Medical Center Today

Glaucoma is a serious condition that can have lasting complications in dogs. Fortunately, our veterinarians at Animal Medical Center know how to detect glaucoma, so you can ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment if the disease does occur. If you have noticed any of the above symptoms in your pet, contact Animal Medical Center today to speak to an experienced veterinarian. One of our staff member can help you schedule a glaucoma screening for your pet.