Pets are prone to eye conditions the same as their human counterparts. Sometimes the issue is temporary and easily resolved with a trip to the veterinarian while others are chronic and need ongoing maintenance. Still others require surgery as a permanent treatment for eye problems. The causes of eye conditions are many and various with some being shared by cats and dogs alike. Following is a look at common eye problems, how to recognize them, and the importance of getting treatment from a vet.
Common Eye Conditions in Cats and Dogs
Both cats and dogs can experience the same kind eye problems such as pink eye and allergies. Most unique eye issues in either species are due to genetic abnormalities found in purebreds. What this means is that pet owners who view specific eye symptoms in a cat can recognize it in a dog and vice-versa. That doesn't mean skipping a trip to the veterinarian for an exam, but it does help the pet owner understand the condition and its potential outcomes. The most common eye problems include:
- Corneal ulcers which appear as open sores on the visible portion of the eye
- Glaucoma or pressure in the eye caused by a buildup of fluid
- Cataracts that block light from reaching the retina
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), a condition that causes gradual blindness
- Cherry eye caused by a dislocated gland located within the third eye
- Corneal wounds or scratches caused by trauma
Signs Your Pet is Having Problems With Its Eyes
Pets with eye problems tend to act differently and exhibit behaviors that are out of the norm for them. If you notice signs of distress in your pet, or if your pet seems to be having problems navigating through their environment, they may be experiencing an eye problem. Some of the signs include:
- Frequent scratching or rubbing on the eyes
- Weeping or unusual discharge
- Squinting or reluctance to open the eyelids fully
- Lethargy and lack of appetite due to pain
- Cloudiness in the eyes
- Third eyelid is visible
- Different pupil sizes
- Inability to focus on a stimulus
If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it's time to contact the vet's office and get them checked out.
What to Expect During the Veterinary Appointment
Here’s what to expect when visiting the vet. The veterinarian performs a thorough visual exam of your pet for any outward signs of eye issues, then uses instruments to help zero in on the issue. Most eye problems in pets have a distinct presentation that a trained eye can spot and diagnose. Once the veterinarian has determined a diagnosis, they then turn to the best treatment for eye problems that are currently available.
The treatment that the veterinarian prescribes is dependent on the issue at hand. Some eye issues are benign but require long-term monitoring for changes and progression. Others are easily cleared up with the application of an appropriate medication and won't return. In some cases, the issue is progressive or permanent and has no treatment other than management. The veterinarian is your best source of help when it comes to understanding eye issues and their treatment.