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Seven Common Signs of Pet Eye Disease

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Eyes are sensitive organs and delay in seeking treatment can be the difference between a visual and blind eye. Pet owners should seek prompt veterinary care if their pet shows any of the following non-specific signs of ocular disease:

Innis II is examined by Dr. Peiffer of CARES
Innis II is examined by Dr. Peiffer of CARES

1.)Squinting: Blinking or squinting is a sign of ocular pain and is seen in a wide range of issues from something as simple as a superficial corneal ulcer to high pressure (glaucoma) or inflammation (uveitis) in the eye that can lead to blindness.

2.) Redness: The sclera (“white”) and conjunctiva are rich with blood vessels: dilation of these blood vessels give the eye a red appearance. Occasional slight redness when excited or playing may be  normal, but constant or prominent red eyes are frequently associated with potentially serious ocular disease.

3.) Cloudiness: a blue or gray cloudiness of the eye can be caused by a wide variety of problems, including normal aging changes, but the most concerning are glaucoma and uveitis which can be blinding diseases.

4.) Discharge: Some occasional tearing may be normal for certain breeds, however persistent or excessive discharge, or any discharge that is not watery, warrants evaluation. It could mean your dog has conjunctivitis, an ulcer, inadequate tear production (“dry eye”), clogged tear ducts, or any other wide variety of diseases.

5.) Vision changes: The most concerning problem for our pets is vision loss. Acute vision loss may be a problem with the retina optic nerve, or glaucoma. Slow progressive vision loss may be due to cataracts or retinal disease.

6.) Discomfort: Our pets exhibit ocular discomfort in different ways including,:  squinting, pawing, rubbing or scratching at the eyes. They may demonstrate behavioral changes including  lethargy, or having a decreased appetite.

7.) Swelling: Conditions that involve the eye itself or the tissues around it (lids, conjunctiva, orbit) can give the appearance of swelling and include allergic reaction, infections, or tumors.

By:  Martha Low, DVM and Robert L. Peiffer, DVM, PhD
Center for Animal Referral and Emergency Services, Langhorne, PA
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