A large, furry cat stares at the camera.

When our pets are under distress, it hurts us too. At Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital, we know just as well as anyone how that feels. While pets need our help for many things, animal eye problems are a biggie. 

Ocular problems in pets can be painful, distressing, and can turn serious quickly. As a pet owner, spotting animal eye problems quickly can be key to getting your beloved family member feeling better soon.

Recognizing Trouble

The eyes are vital organs and help us and our pets function in the world around us. While it is very possible to have a fulfilling life without vision, having healthy eyes certainly is ideal.

Pet eye health starts at home. One of your most important jobs as a pet caregiver is recognizing if your pet is having a problem so that you can seek help. When it comes to the eyes, be on the lookout for things like:

  • Pawing at or rubbing the eye(s)
  • Squinting or holding the eye(s) closed
  • Increased tearing
  • Discharge from the eye(s)
  • Color change within or on the surface of the eye
  • Swelling or bulging
  • Visible redness, irritation, or foreing material in the eye
  • Vision changes

Many animal eye problems can appear similar to one another, and some are more serious than others. Any time you think your pet may be experiencing eye trouble, it is important to call us immediately so that we can diagnose and treat the problem. 

Animal Eye Problems of Note

While it is often not possible to diagnose animal eye problems accurately without diagnostic testing such as an ophthalmologic exam, tonometry (intraocular pressures), tear production analysis, and corneal staining, some problems are more common than others. 

Some animal eye problems that our doctors frequently diagnose include:

Autoimmune diseases – The eye is not exempt from conditions that the body imposes on itself, such as pannus in which the body reacts to the outer layer of the eye (the cornea). 

Blindness – There can be many underlying causes of blindness. When a pet becomes blind we need to determine if there is a neurological (brain) cause versus a problem systematically versus within the eye itself. 

Cataracts – Cataracts are changes in the opacity of the lens within the eye. 

Cherry eye – Dogs and cats have a third eyelid in the corner of the eye normally with a gland that helps to produce part of the tear film. Sometimes this gland can prolapse, making it look like a red bulge in the corner of the eye. 

Conjunctivitis – Swelling, irritation, and even infection of the tissues surrounding the eye can happen due to allergies or other causes. 

Corneal ulceration – Scratches and other defects in the surface of  the eye can be quite painful and lead to serious complications.

Dry eye – Decreased tear production can cause dryness, irritation, and ulceration of the cornea. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is a common autoimmune cause of dry eye.

Foreign material – Dust, plant material, or even errant eyelashes can irritate and injure the eye. 

Glaucomaincreased pressure within the globe itself can have a variety of causes, but ultimately causes pain and can lead to blindness. 

Many eye problems in pets are fixable, and most are at least able to be successfully managed. Our ability to do this, though, depends on you recognizing and seeking care for your pet in a timely manner. Don’t forget that you are your pet’s advocate – for their eyes and everything else, too!