Glaucoma is leading cause of dog blindness
by By Sue Little
Jul 28, 2013 | 832 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Five years ago a backyard breeder gave up three litters of beautiful puppies and their mothers to the Cleveland Animal Shelter.

I adopted two of the puppies, a male and a female, into my home foster care.

Then I quickly made calls to other ESP members hoping they had the time to home foster either some of the other puppies and/or their mothers prior to their adoption following vetting and socializing, into carefully screened forever home.

When our oldest daughter, Sally, and her husband, Vaughn, from Alabama, met my two newest foster puppies they fell in love with the little female, Lily Belle, and adopted her. I kept Lily's little brother, Bay. Much later as I was flipping through one of my favorite dog books, "Simon & Schuster's Guide to Dogs," I was amazed to see a picture and a description of a breed called Kromfohrlander.

Instantly I recognized this was the breed of Lily Belle and Bay and all the others given up by that backyard breeder.

Both Lily Belle and Bay quickly became dearly loved members of our families — prime examples of happy, healthy companion dogs who enjoyed our other dogs.

Then, about 1 1/2 years ago, Lily Belle got an eye infection. She was treated by her Huntsville veterinarian and her eye cleared up just fine. Six months later she developed another eye infection, and six months after than her right eye became red and was partially shutting, obviously from yet another infection.

Sally and Vaughn again quickly took her to their veterinarian. They were then advised to take her to a canine opthalmologist in Birmingham. Sadly, that examination confirmed that she had glaucoma in her right eye and that she is totally blind in that eye.

They also learned, as often happens, that her left eye is in jeopardy of blindness from this awful disease which can strike so suddenly.

When I talked with Dr. Oscar Wilson of Mountainview Veterinary Hospital here in Cleveland about canine glaucoma he told me that glaucoma "is a leading cause of blindness in dogs. It is often more prevalent in some breeds. Cocker spaniels, beagles, chows, basset hounds and Norwegian elkhounds are some of the breeds predisposed to glaucoma which often goes unnoticed until it is in the severe stages. It is caused by high pressure in the eye that causes inadequate fluid drainage," Wilson explained.

"When people develop glaucoma they can usually manage it and maintain long-term sight with treatment and medications but with dogs there is an acute, blinding onset when glaucoma strikes. It often goes unnoticed in a dog until it is in a severe stage. In some breeds, such as the Pekingese, the affected eyeball may protrude but this disease strikes hard and fast which makes reporting any changes you see in a pet's eyes to your veterinarian so important," he said.

"In some dogs, such as Lily, an eye may get red, swollen and cloudy looking or may be partially shut. Reoccurring eye infections may also signal onset of the disease, as those Lily experienced," he added.

Can cats get glaucoma?

"Yes, but in cats it is usually the secondary type. Symptoms may show up as a change in the color of the iris or in one pupil being more dilated than the other eye's pupil. In cats probably 20 percent is secondary glaucoma.

In dogs, probably 80 percent is primary glaucoma. Besides glaucoma, pets can also develop melanoma in their eyes," he noted.

If a dog or a cat is suspected of having glaucoma a referral can be made to a canine/feline opthalmologist by your veterinarian.

"We refer such cases to Dr. Laratta, a canine/feline opthalmologist at the Riverview Emergency Clinic," Dr. Wilson said.

In conclusion, he urged pet owners to get regular veterinary check-ups for their pets since early detection of health problems is so vital to maintaining their well-being.

Paws up this week to: Lindsey Smith, Pat Hardin, Dan and Judy Haydon, Roy Womack, Jenny Donahue, Bob and Joanne Berger, Kathy and Richard Erwin and all who rescued a pet with the assurance of providing a long, wonderful life in a forever home.

Call me with your pet and wildlife stories, 728-5414, or write to: P.O. Box 4864, Cleveland TN 37320.