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Dogs can suffer from various eye diseases. Here you will find important information about diseases and their treatment.

The dog’s eye

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The dog’s eye includes the eyeball, the optic nerves and the visual center in the brain, where the incoming stimuli are processed. In addition, of course, blood vessels and nerves, eyelids, lacrimal apparatus, eye muscles and the bony eye socket in the skull. The eyeball is surrounded by different layers: the sclera is on the outside, followed by the choroid and the innermost part is the retina. There are also elements such as the cornea, the iris and the lens. The vitreous humor fills the inside of the eyeball. The nictitating membrane is part of the conjunctiva, which lies on the inside of the eyelids as a mucous membrane and connects to the dermis. The nictitating membrane is located in the corner of the eye towards the nose.

All of these structures can be affected in diseases, individually or in combination. Some eye diseases in dogs are congenital, others are caused by pathogens or follow metabolic problems (e.g. in diabetes) or foreign bodies.

Eye diseases dog: symptoms

These symptoms, individually or in combination, indicate eye diseases in dogs:

  • severe blinking, squinting of one or both eyes
  • profuse lacrimation, purulent discharge
  • Red eyes
  • itching
  • Prolapsed nictitating membrane (i.e. the third eyelid coming from the side of the nose is
  • permanently visible)
  • swelling in and around the eyes
  • crust formation
  • Blindness (orientation problems, bumping into furniture, etc.)
  • clouded lens
  • protruding or sunken eyeballs, also unilateral
  • visible injuries on and in the eye
  • curled eyelids
  • Discoloration (green, bluish, grey) of the cornea or lens
  • visible masses or nodules (eg, in tumors)

Eye diseases dog: which ones are there?

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The following list is of course not exhaustive, but gives you a good overview of important canine eye diseases:

Eye discharge: Can be transparent/colorless or e.g. B. purulent yellow/green. Occurs in various eye diseases, but also in diseases of the skull, nose, and teeth. It is caused by overproduction of tear fluid or impaired drainage, also in combination with bacteria.
Eyelid inflammation: Due to injuries or infections, but also due to e.g. B. causes allergies.
The problem of short-headed dog breeds (pug eye): This clinical picture often includes a rolled-up eyelid and a disturbed tear film. The eyelids do not close properly and the folds of the nose also rub against the eyes. This irritates and damages the cornea, which reacts by depositing pigment (darker pigment) or scarring, progressively reducing vision.
Conjunctivitis: Due to e.g. B. excessive reaction to pollen, house dust, etc., but also through injuries. Usually occurs on both sides. You will see red, irritated conjunctiva, often with small blisters. Often in young animals up to 2 years of age, which then often heals spontaneously.
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS): The “dry eye” is caused by nerve damage or endogenous antibodies that disrupt the function of the tear ducts. If this is the case for a longer period of time, the tear ducts can perish and no longer function at all. Drying of the cornea causes damage and pain. If DED lasts longer, the dog goes blind because the cornea becomes cloudy.
German Shepherd Keratitis: German Shepherds often have this eye condition, which is actually called “superficial chronic keratitis”. But also e.g. B. dachshunds, collies, or Siberian huskies. This is a so-called autoimmune process – the body attacks its own cells. A gray-red to red spot forms on the cornea, which gradually gets larger, which can ultimately lead to blindness. Aggravation when exposed to sunlight, therefore often occurring intermittently in summer.
Uveitis: Inflammation of the choroid caused by injuries, tumors, infections. Most often, however, the cause cannot be identified.
Glaucoma: A glaucoma (or glaucoma) is caused by excessive intraocular pressure. This destroys important structures such. B. Retina and optic nerves. Left untreated, it leads to blindness.
Cataract: The eye disease “cataract” is a clouding of the lens (cataract). It can be age-related but has a large hereditary component. If it only affects small areas of the lens, it is hardly a problem, but the disease usually progresses and can ultimately lead to blindness. Injury, inflammation, and diabetes mellitus (diabetes) can also cause cataracts.
Cataracts in dogs should not be confused with nuclear sclerosis, which is an aging change in the lens that is usually unproblematic and does not or only slightly obstruct the dog’s vision.
Horner Syndrome: Nerve damage causes narrowing of the pupil, sinking of the eyeball into the orbit, and prolapse of the nictitating membrane. In addition, the eyelids on the affected side hang, especially the upper eyelid. Horner’s syndrome is basically harmless, but of course disturbing. Another underlying condition is often the cause and should be treated (e.g. a middle ear infection).
Tumors: Visible are e.g. B. eyelid tumors, but there are also benign and malignant tumors on other parts of the eye (e.g. conjunctiva or iris).
Eye injuries: Always treat an eye injury as an emergency that should be treated as soon as possible! Only after careful examination can it be determined to what extent the eye is affected. If you do not see the injury directly, severe squinting of the eye, heavy tearing and possibly reddening indicate an eye injury.
Other eye diseases in dogs are e.g. B. Hemorrhage in the eye, prolapse of the nictitating gland, or lens luxation.

Eye diseases dog: diagnosis

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When you bring your dog to a vet with eye problems, they will examine not just the affected eye, but the whole dog. This is always necessary in order not to miss any important clues as to the cause of what is happening.

In addition to the precise examination, an examination with other instruments, special lamps, magnifying glasses, and a tonometer (eye pressure measuring device) is also carried out in the case of eye diseases in dogs. There are small strips of paper to examine the tear fluid and to clarify possible corneal injuries. The vet will explain their use to you if necessary.

If the eye is very painful and/or the dog is not at all enthusiastic about the examination, a local anesthetic of the eye or medication to calm the animal can make the examination a little more comfortable.

If you suspect other diseases that could be the cause of the eye problem, an X-ray examination or a blood test can be useful.

Eye diseases dog: therapy

The therapy of eye diseases in dogs will follow the cause. Many congenital canine eye diseases such. For example, eyelids that are too small or excess hair that irritates the cornea must be surgically removed. This also applies to the “pug eye”. Tumors are also surgically removed.

Infection and inflammation that causes eye disease in dogs is treated with antibiotics (topically in the eye or given as pills) and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Your vet will provide first aid. If it’s a more complicated problem, he’ll refer you to veterinarians who specialize in ophthalmology.

Eye diseases dog: conclusion

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There are many different eye diseases in dogs. Rapid treatment is important to preserve vision and damage the eye as little as possible. Therefore, go to the vet as soon as possible if you have the feeling that your dog has eye problems!