Paying attention to the eyes of pets is essential to identify possible problems that not only affect the vision of animals, but can also suggest the presence of much more serious diseases, from infectious diseases such as distemper and leishmaniasis to systemic problems such as of high blood pressure, diabetes and even tumors.
Constant eye secretion, redness, localized itching, closed eyes, pain and apathy are some of the signs that should leave tutors on alert to seek a veterinary ophthalmologist.
The most common eye diseases and how to identify them
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca or Dry eye disease
It is a disease characterized by the low production of tears in animals, mainly affecting dogs. It is important to remember that tears, in addition to lubricating, help with ocular immunity, and dryness can open the door to infections and foreign bodies, such as dust, pollen and hair.
At first, identifying if the dog has keratoconjunctivitis sicca can be difficult because the cause is usually due to an infection that causes an exaggerated reaction of the body and inflammation of the lacrimal glands.
However, as the veterinary ophthalmologist, Guilherme Ferreira da Silva Tamaki, warns, dry eye can be one of the clinical manifestations of more serious problems.
“Distemper virus and leishmaniasis are examples of systemic diseases that can cause an infection of the glands.” According to Guilherme, dry eyes can also be a sign of diabetes, which does not reduce the quantity of tears, but decreases the quality, making a tear bad.
Dry eye disease is immune-mediated (a reaction of the body itself), making it more difficult to prevent. It is very important that the tutor looks for a veterinarian, preferably one who specializes in ophthalmology, as soon as he notices the first signs in the animal, which are: increased secretion, redness, half-open eyes and a lot of itching in the region.
In most cases, treatment is simple, with the application of lubricating, anti-inflammatory or antibiotic eye drops. The animal can also receive an immunomodulator to control inflammation and restore the production capacity of the lacrimal glands.
It is an open wound in the most superficial or deep layers of the eye, the injury can be caused by some trauma caused by scratches made by the nail itself in the act of scratching, by bites while playing with other animals, when bumping into furniture or other objects or even even by more prominent eyelashes and, in the case of hairier animals, by hairs that touch the eyeball.
The lack of lubrication from keratoconjunctivitis can also progress to a corneal ulcer.
The wound causes great pain to the animal, making it difficult to open its eyes, especially in brighter environments, and can be taken by apathy and lack of appetite.
Even for more careful tutors, the lesion is not always visible and only the veterinarian can make an accurate diagnosis from the application of an eye drop that confirms the injured region.
Because it is a disease that is usually caused by trauma that comes from common activities of animals, the ideal is to maintain a periodic routine of medical evaluation.
“The best form of prevention is to take the pet regularly to the veterinarian specialized in ophthalmology so that he can detect if there is any type of ulcer or other eye disease”, emphasizes Tamaki.
Once the lesion is detected, the initial treatment involves prescribing lubricating eye drops with antibiotics, to avoid infection in the wound, analgesics to relieve pain (in eye drops or oral) and application of the Elizabethan collar, to prevent the animal from scratching its eyes.
If none of the previous procedures work, the vet may opt for surgery.
Uveitis, a warning sign
An inflammation of the blood vessels that supply the animal’s eye from the inside is the probable manifestation of a large number of very serious systemic diseases, some of which are distemper, tick disease, various parasitosis, leptospirosis, hormonal diseases (such as diabetes) and chronic kidney disease (in elderly animals), pyometra (infection in the uterus) and other infections and hypertension.
It can also arise from other eye diseases, such as cataracts and corneal ulcers and, in more extreme cases, lymphoma or tumors in any part of the body, not necessarily in the eyes or head.
Uveitis is not a disease in itself, but an alert that the animal is suffering from some other disease. Therefore, tutors should be aware of the most common signs: half-open eyes, darkening of the iris (the colored part of the eye) and redness (intraocular bleeding). When diagnosing uveitis, the veterinarian’s first action is to perform a checkup to investigate the root cause of the problem. In parallel, eye drops and anti-inflammatories can be administered to reduce the animal’s discomfort.
If not treated properly, it can lead to loss of vision for the animal.
Also known as “blue eye syndrome”, the disease can be confused with uveitis or cataract, due to the visual similarity, a white spot in the dog’s eye that occurs due to the loss of flexibility of the crystalline fibers (the natural lens of the eyes). eyes), which gives a bluish appearance.
Like cataracts, the disease usually appears as the animal ages, however, unlike cataracts, lens sclerosis does not compromise dogs’ vision.
The diagnosis is usually made by examination of the fundus of the eye and ophthalmic ultrasound and electroretinography. Treatment will depend on the main cause, and can be reversed by cataract surgery (phacoemulsification), not always recommended, as the animal may not see again.
Early diagnosis is essential to prevent these and other eye diseases in dogs and cats. And it’s always good to reinforce that keeping your pet’s vaccination record up to date is the best way to prevent most infectious diseases that can cause keratoconjunctivitis sicca.
The tutor should never use any medication without a prescription and always consult a veterinarian to advise on the vaccination schedule, prevention, treatment and other animal health care.
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