Glaucoma is a condition where the pressure
inside the eye increases to the point that it produces changes in the structures and function of the
eye. Glaucoma often leads to blindness. The American College of Veterinary
Ophthalmologists has defined 42 different breeds of dogs with a genetic predisposition toward glaucoma.
If diagnosed early and properly medicated, the pressure in the eye can
be controlled, and the dog's vision can be saved.
Our dogs have the same symptoms as humans. The early warning signs of glaucoma are typically blurring vision, and chronic headaches.
Unfortunately, our dogs cannot tell us when their vision is blurred or
if they are having headaches.
Often glaucoma has advanced and the dog is displaying obvious symptoms
(very red painful eyes, cloudy corneas, markedly swollen, protruded eyes)
before the owner is aware of the problems. Once it has reached this point is it
almost always too late to save the dog's sight and in many cases it
is too late to even save the eye.
Early diagnosis is best made by measuring the pressure within the eye.
This is a painless procedure and done with a tonometer. Unfortunately, the
normal measurement has a wide variation, and it is best to
establish what is normal for that individual. Ideally, this is done when the
dog is young. Once the normal is established, the pressures should be checked
annually for changes which would be an early warning of glaucoma. The
measurement can easily be done when the dog receives its
Veterinary ophthalmologists are recommending monitoring the eye pressure
in all breeds of dogs, and especially for those breeds with established
genetic predispositions for glaucoma. Pressures should be monitored in
adult dogs annually even if puppies' "normals" are not available for comparison.
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