How to Prevent Common Conditions that Cause Eye Pain in Dogs

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    There are several conditions that can cause eye pain in dogs. Left untreated, eye pain can worsen and lead to more serious issues. Read below to learn about a few common conditions that cause eye pain in dogs and what you can do to take preventative measures: 

    Glaucoma 

    hand putting eye drops into the eye of a shit zu with glaucoma
    Photo Credit: Petcoach.co

    What is Glaucoma? 

    Glaucoma is a condition that occurs when there is an imbalance in the production and drainage of fluid in the eye. This imbalance causes a buildup of fluid that increases eye pressure to abnormal and unhealthy levels. This increased pressure may lead to the destruction of the retina and optic disk. The optic disk is the portion of the eye where the optic nerve enters which carries visual information from the eye to the brain.

    How Can You Prevent Glaucoma in Dogs? 

    Age is one of the largest factors when it comes to the degeneration of the eye structure. As your dog gets older, the fluid drainage system in the eye becomes weaker. 

    Providing supplemental antioxidants, vitamins E, C, beta-carotene, lutein, astaxanthin, and rutin that promote eye health and reduce damage to cells in the eye may help prevent glaucoma. Avoid the use of tight collars on the neck that can increase intraocular pressure. Instead, use harnesses that focus on the torso.

    Signs of Glaucoma in Dogs: 

    • Watery discharge from the eye 
    • Rubbing or pawing at the eye 
    • Bulging of the eyeball; whites of the eye may turn red 
    • Cloudy, bluish appearance to the eye 
    • Dilated pupil; or pupil does not respond to light 

    Lens Luxation 

    graphic of lens luxation in dogs
    Photo Credit: VCA Hospitals

    What is Lens Luxation?

    Lens luxation is a condition in dogs caused by a weakness in the threads holding the lens of the eye in place. Sometimes, this weakness may even lead to breaking causing the lens to dislocate from its position completely. The lens can fall backward into the eye which is referred to as a posterior luxation. However, the lens can also fall forward into the eye, referred to as an anterior luxation. When an anterior luxation occurs, the drainage of the fluid is blocked. Posterior luxation of the eye tends to not cause too much discomfort, while anterior luxation can be extremely painful and may even lead to permanent blindness. 

    How Can You Prevent Lens Luxation in Dogs?

    Lens luxation is hereditary in some dogs and is most commonly observed in terrier breeds, Shar Peis, and Border Collies. If you own one of these breeds, be sure to keep an eye out for any signs of discomfort or change in the appearance of the eye. Especially in these breeds,  your dog should be taken to regular eye examinations with your veterinarian to monitor eye health. Your veterinarian can check your dog’s eyes regularly so that any increase in intraocular pressure or eye disorder is diagnosed and treated quickly and correctly. 

    Signs of Lens Luxation in Dogs: 

    • Sudden change in the appearance of the eye; the eye may appear white 
    • Keeping their eyes closed more than usual 
    • Increased tears 
    • Inflammation of the eyes, showing cloudiness and possibly redness 
    • Reluctance to exercise 
    • Depression or lethargy 

    Conjunctivitis 

    gloved hand on the face of rotweiler with conjunctivitis
    Photo Credit: Better Pet

    What is Conjunctivitis? 

    Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the mucous membrane in the eye, called the conjunctiva tissue. The conjunctiva covers the eyeball and lines the eyelids. Dogs have a third eyelid, referred to as a nictitating membrane, in the corner of their eye, which is also covered by the conjunctiva. There are a number of items that cause conjunctivitis in dogs including, viral infections, immune-system-related disorders, tumors of the eyelid and conjunctiva, dry eye, and trauma to the eye or irritation from foreign bodies entering the eye.  Other disorders of the eye may lead to conjunctivitis as well, such as glaucoma

    How Can You Prevent Conjunctivitis in Dogs? 

    Conjunctivitis in dogs is fairly common. Some causes of Conjunctivitis are virtually impossible to prevent. However, other causes may be prevented. Avoid letting your dog put their head out of your moving car’s window. The wind can irritate a dog’s eyes and debris can lead to irritation and Conjunctivitis or other issues in the eye. In addition, keeping up to date with vaccines, such as distemper, prevents viral infections which can lead to Conjunctivitis. 

    Signs of Conjunctivitis in Dogs: 

    • Pawing at the eye or excessive blinking/squinting 
    • Eyelids and surrounding area of the eye are swollen and red 
    • Green discharge from the eye 
    • Redness in the white of the eye 
    • Lethargy 

    It’s important to be aware of your dog’s eyes’ normal appearance to be able to closely monitor any changes. If you think your dog may be experiencing eye pain, consult a veterinarian. Visit our Specialist Directory to locate an Ophthalmology Specialist. 

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