Common Ocular Diseases

Some breeds are prone to abnormal hair growth around the eyes. Trichiasis occurs when normally placed facial hairs grow in a direction that allows it to come into contact with the eye. Distichiasis occurs when one of the eyelashes (cilia) emerges from the eyelid margin instead of from the skin. Ectopic cilia are eyelashes that grow from the conjunctiva or ‘backside’ of the eyelid directly facing the cornea. All of these abnormal hair conditions have the potential to cause discomfort and corneal changes that can affect vision. Cryotherapy is usually recommended for treatment.

A corneal ulcer is a wound on the cornea that may be superficial or deep. Ulcers can occur spontaneously, secondary to trauma or an ocular foreign body, or from an underlying disease condition as occurs with indolent ulcers or patients with tear film dysfunction. Corneal ulcers that are infected, deep, cause corneal perforation, or are associated with a corneal sequestrum, usually require surgical intervention. A keratectomy with or without a corneal graft may be recommended.

Often mistaken for a prolapsed gland of the third eyelid, or “cherry eye”, the cartilage of the third eyelid can be deformed causing a mass appearance in the medial canthus. This occurs when the front and back sides of the cartilage do not grow at the same rate. Surgical correction is minimally invasive with a high rate of success.

The eyelids are very important in protecting the eye from trauma and the environment. For this reason, it is important to address conditions such as eyelid masses, trauma, inflammation (blepharitis), and abnormal conformation (agenesis, entropion, ectropion).

Excessive facial trauma may result in displacement of the eye out of the orbit (eye socket). In brachycephalic breeds with wide eyelid openings, proptosis can occur easily with minimal force. Proptosis surgery is recommended immediately if your pet has suffered this type of trauma. Medial canthoplasty should be considered as a prophylactic surgery if your pet is prone to this condition, or if proptosis has already occurred in one of their eyes.

Golden Retriever Pigmentary Uveitis is a condition in this breed that often starts with abnormal pigment dispersion inside the eye, progressing to glaucoma and blindness over several months to years. This condition requires lifelong treatment and should be monitored by a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Benign and malignant masses can occur inside of the eye as either a primary or secondary disease. For example, uveal cysts are benign spherical abnormalities often seen in the anterior chamber of dogs. This is usually an incidental finding that does not require treatment. However, if your pet is a Golden Retriever, an ophthalmology exam is recommended to determine if other signs of Golden Retriever Uveitis are present.

Keratitis means inflammation of the cornea. This can occur due to trauma, infections (Herpes virus, fungus), immune-mediated conditions (Pannus), and facial or tear film abnormalities that cause increased corneal exposure. Keratitis may require lifelong therapy to keep your pet comfortable and visual. Brachycephalic breeds may require surgery, such as medial canthoplasty, to further protect their eyes.

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Retinal diseases such as dysplasia, degeneration, and detachment threaten your pet’s vision. Commonly diagnosed retinal conditions include: Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration (SARD), Immune-mediated Retinopathy (IMR), and Hypertensive Retinopathy. Retinal disease requires immediate examination to determine if treatment is possible.