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Glaucoma - Issue Description

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Issue Description

Glaucoma is an increase of pressure within the eye. If the pressure within the eye is elevated for more than several hours, permanent damage or blindness can result.


Most dogs with glaucoma will suddenly have a red, painful eye. Many dogs exhibit eye pain by a loss of appetite, excessive sleeping, or a decrease in activity. A decrease in vision is usually not recognized unless both eyes are affected. Some breeds of dogs will not have a red, painful eye but will have only a slow loss of vision.


Your vet can perform routine assessment of your pet's eye pressure with a fairly straightforward procedure. Since the most common time for inset of symptoms is between the ages of four and six, this is the time to establish an eye baseline.


Glaucoma is due to an obstruction to the drainage of aqueous humor from the eye. Continued fluid secretion into the sealed eye elevates the intraocular pressure. Certain breeds of dogs are more predisposed to this disease including the Cocker Spaniel, Beagle, Basset Hound, Poodles, Terrier Breeds, and Siberian Husky. Although it may affect pets at any age, it is usually diagnosed in middle-aged dogs, approximately four to six years old.


Glaucoma that has been present for less than 48 hours requires emergency treatment. Although only a small percentage of dogs regain vision in an eye that has glaucoma, emergency treatment helps relieve the extreme pain associated with this condition. If your dog has had glaucoma for more than 48 hours, emergency treatment may not be effective. Emergency treatment generally requires one day of hospitalization. Long term treatment is often needed to control glaucoma requiring oral medication and/or eye drops for the rest of your pets life. A surgery to relieve increased eye pressure is frequently recommended instead of long term medication if the eye is permanently blind.

Occasionally, the oral medication used for glaucoma, Daranide, may produce a loss of appetite and lethargy. On rare occasions, vomiting and/or diarrhea may occur. The eye drops may cause temporary redness and tearing immediately after instillation.

Types Of Surgery Available

The Eye With a Potential for Vision
Laser: Laser energy can be directed into the eye to selectively destroy the fluid producing cells. This "turns down" the flow of fluid into the eye and subsequently reduces intraocular pressure. Laser surgeries are about 75% effective in keeping an eye comfortable, amount of vision restored to the eye is dependent on the amount of damage done during the pressure spike.

The Blind Eye
Eye Removal (enucleation): Although this surgery seems drastic, enucleation is the most reliable way to alleviate the source of your pet's pain. The eyeball is removed, a silicone ball is placed in the eye socket, and the eyelids are permanently sutured over the ball. The ball prevents the skin over the eye socket from sinking in.

Intraocular Evisceration and Implantation
The inner contents of the eye are removed and replaced with a black silicone ball. The outer portions of the eye remain. The eye is sutured shut for 4 weeks while the eye heals. This surgery is often chosen by pet owners who cannot tolerate eye removal. The resulting eye does not look exactly like the dog's original eye but may be more cosmetically appealing than enucleation.

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