Glaucoma in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnoses and Treatment

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    What is Glaucoma in Dogs?

    Glaucoma is a painful eye illness in which a rising pressure behind the eye, known as intraocular pressure (IOP), damages the optic nerve. The increase in pressure then causes damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma must be treated early to prevent blindness.

    What Causes Glaucoma in Dogs?

    Primary glaucoma in dogs is caused causes a rise in intraocular pressure as the result of genetic defects in the eye’s drainage system.

    Secondary glaucoma develops as a result of another eye problem. Bleeding, edema and inflammation may ensue, scar tissue may develop, and fluid outflow may be hampered, if not completely stopped. Secondary glaucoma is more frequent in dogs than primary glaucoma. The following conditions may cause secondary glaucoma:

    • Lens anterior dislocation: This is a dislocation in which the displaced lens slips forward and physically blocks the drainage angle or pupil, trapping fluid behind it.
    • Uveitis: Uveitis or severe intra-ocular infections can cause debris and scar tissue to obstruct the drainage angle.
    • Bleeding inside the eye: If there is bleeding in the eye, a blood clot might block the aqueous fluid from draining.
    • Damaged Lens: Lens proteins that leak into the eye as a result of a damaged lens might produce an inflammatory reaction that results in edema and obstruction of the drainage angle.
    • Tumors: Tumors can physically restrict the iridocorneal angle.

    Who’s at Risk of Developing Glaucoma?

    Dogs who are at high risk for developing glaucoma are those who have genetic predisposition for glaucoma. The risk is the highest in certain dog breeds which include:

    • Cocker Spaniels
    • Beagle
    • Chow Chow
    • Poodle
    • Most Terriers
    • Samoyed
    • Dalmatian
    • Great Dane
    • Chihuahua
    • Siberian Husky
    • Basset Hounds

    But this doesn’t mean that other breeds can’t have primary glaucoma.

    What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?

    Glaucoma causes more acute discomfort in dogs than in humans. Since dogs do not display pain in the same capacity that humans do, it may be difficult to tell whether they are in pain. Clinical symptoms to watch for include:

    • Rubbing up against the floor or another object, or with the paw, might cause eye discomfort.
    • Eye irritability
    • Corneal cloudiness
    • Squinting
    • Tearing
    • Light avoidance
    • Inadequate blink response
    • Eyelid fluttering
    • The size of the pupils appears to vary.
    • Manifestation of vessels in the white of the eye
    • Swollen, bulging eye
    • Vision issues such as bumping into items, having difficulties finding things, and walking cautiously

    How Can Glaucoma in Dogs Be Prevented?

    The prevention for glaucoma in dogs differ for primary and secondary glaucoma.

    Primary glaucoma is not preventable due to it being hereditary but the signs should be looked out for as to stop the progression of the disease and prevent blindless or eye loss.There are things you can do to try and slow the degernatation of your dog’s eyes and reduce the chances of glaucoma:

    • A tight collar or harness can cause strain on a dog’s neck and increase the inter-cerebral or intraocular pressure so keep an eye on the tightness and loosen as needed.
    • Reduce stresses in your pet’s surroundings can aid in the management of oxidative damage throughout the body, including the eyes.
    • Antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamins E and C, and nutraceuticals can all be used to lessen the amount of damage to the eye’s cells.
    • Make sure your vet does testing for ocular pressure during your dog’s wellness visits. This is especially important for senior dogs and those at higher risk.
    • Catching the signs of glaucoma early can help prevent further progression and a permanent condition.

    When it comes to secondary glaucoma, the best ways to prevent glaucoma are to avoid injuries to the eyes, staying on top of any health issues and recieving treatment for any eye conditions immediately.

    How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?

    When it comes to treating glaucoma, time is of the essence in terms of diagnosing and then treating. Dogs should be taken to the vet if they are showing signs of glaucoma. Your veterinarian will conduct an opthalmogic exam and possibly refer you and your dog to a veterinary ophthalmologist.

    To measure the IOP, one type of tonometer shoots a puff of air into the eye. Another version measures pressure by pressing a tiny plastic disk against the eyeball. To keep the dog comfortable throughout the test, a drop of anesthesia is frequently administered prior.

    When there is an eye abscess, injury, or tumor, an X-ray or ultrasound may be performed to provide a better understanding of the region around the eye. The pupil responds slowly to light, the blink reflex is weak or nonexistent, the cornea is swollen or clouded, the eye is red, irritated, tearing, and the dog may squint.

    What is the Treatment for Glaucoma?

    There isn’t a cure for glaucoma but it can be managed in different ways depending on the severity.


    When it comes to medication for glaucoma, they are usually given with the goal of reducing pressure and returning the eye to normal quickly to try and keep the dog’s eyesight. Analgesics may also be prescribed to help reduce pain and keep the dog comfortable. In cases of extreme glaucoma, dogs may be held at the hospital so they can recieve injectable medication to decrease the pressure more quickly.


    Surgery for glaucoma invovles removing the eye which can often be the only solution for cases in which the pressure can’t be reduced and the condition keeps progressing to the point of the damage being beyond treating. The condition is painful and often times, removing the eye is the most humane option.

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