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Dogs manage to be some of our best friends, even though they cannot speak to us.  Knowing when your dog is sick or they don’t feel well can be difficult because they cannot simply tell us.  Dog owners must be aware of signs and symptoms of various illnesses so that they can spot them as soon as possible and get their dog the treatment that they need.  Glaucoma is fairly common is particular dog breeds and has a variety of different symptoms.  Glaucoma is common in dog breeds such as poodles, cocker spaniels, chow chows, Siberians, and samoyeds, beagles, basset hounds, and more. PetEducation provides a helpful description of what glaucoma is, “A normal eye contains fluid to maintain its shape, and the body is constantly adding and removing fluid from inside of the eye to maintain the intraocular pressure (pressure inside the eye) at the proper level. Glaucoma occurs when the pressure inside the globe (eyeball) becomes higher than normal. Just as high blood pressure can damage the heart, excessive pressure inside the eye can damage the eye’s internal structures. The retina (a structure at the back of the eye which is essential for vision) and optic nerve (large nerve that carries visual signals to the brain) are especially sensitive to increased pressure. Unless glaucoma is treated quickly, permanent loss of vision or even total blindness can result.”

There are various types of treatment for glaucoma and the sooner glaucoma is diagnosed and treated, the better the change for a positive outcome in treatment.  Symptoms of glaucoma include: excessive blinking of the eye, red blood vessels in the white of the eye, front of eye appears cloudy, dilated pupils that do not respond to light, vision loss, eyeball has receded back into the head, and pain (which may be noticeable if dog is rubbing its eye with its paws frequently).  There are two types of glaucoma in dogs, primary and secondary.  Essentially, primary glaucoma is when glaucoma is diagnosed in a dog without any other reason for its existence – glaucoma just arises independently.  Secondary glaucoma is glaucoma that is the result of another existing condition or injury that the dog has experienced.  For example, if your dog experiences some sort of eye trauma from an injury, glaucoma may arise in the eye – that is secondary glaucoma.

If your dog is diagnosed with glaucoma, depending on how advanced it is, there are two primary treatment options.  First, your veterinarian may prescribe medication to lower the pressure in your dog’s eye.  This is done to help stop the progressive of glaucoma and preserve vision.  Additionally, fluid can be drained from the eye to reduce pressure.  And, if your dog’s glaucoma will not be adequately controlled with medication, surgical intervention may be necessary.  There are a variety of different surgical approaches depending on your dog’s specific health and needs.  If your dog’s glaucoma progresses to blindness surgical removal of the eye may be what your veterinarian recommends.  In this case, your dog’s eye will be removed and a prosthetic eye will be placed which can help reduce the pain your dog experiences.  If you are noticing signs and symptoms of glaucoma in your dog, it is important to see a veterinarian as soon as possible so that you can begin treatment to preserve vision for as long as possible.