We know that eye health is important but how often do you take your pet’s eye health into account?
Eye problems are often painful and, if left untreated, may result in sight loss so understanding the symptoms and getting a vet appointment early is essential. Eye problems can also be a symptom of underlying medical conditions so the more quickly you can see your vet, the better. Hopefully this blog will help you recognise common eye problems and understand what you should do about them.
Any changes in your pet’s eyes or if one eye suddenly looks different from the other could indicate a problem.
Some specific symptoms of eye disease to look out for are:
A red eye is most commonly due to inflammation. Inflammation can occur anywhere in or around the eye. There may also be discharge, irritation and swelling present. Conjunctivitis is a common cause of a red eye in dogs and cats and can be secondary to a number of causes such as allergies, foreign bodies, tear film disorders or pathogens. Your vet will treat your pet accordingly depending on the underlying cause.
Redness may less commonly be due to engorged blood vessels (e.g. in glaucoma) or haemorrhage within the eye, either of which can be damaging to vision.
Eyes are very sensitive and can easily irritated and irritation is usually an indicator of a painful or itchy eye.
Discharge can range from watery to sticky/ thick and be a variety of colours (clear, yellow/green/brown or bloody). Normal healthy eyes should be clear and bright so if you notice any discharge you should consult your vet.
Once discharge dries it can become crusty and adhere to the eyelids which is uncomfortable for your pet and may become a site for bacterial multiplication. Ocryl is a gentle eye cleansing solution designed specifically for pets which helps to soften and remove dried on discharge and flush debris from the eye.
Dull/cloudy/change in colour
Tear stains are those reddish-brown marks that can appear on the fur around your pet’s eyes. These stains can be unsightly and noticeable, especially on pale fur. In most cases tear staining occurs when tears don’t drain properly and find their way onto the face. For these patients, tear staining is largely a cosmetic problem which can be solved with regular cleaning. Ocryl is a gentle eye cleansing solution designed specifically for pets which is also proven to combat stubborn tear stains! Further information can be found here.
Some patients with tears stains may have underlying eye problems which mean they overproduce tears due to ocular irritation. These tears can then spill over onto the face resulting in tear staining so it’s important that a vet checks your pet if they have tear stains to address anything treatable.
Loss of vision, or declining vision
Loss of vision can be sudden or gradual depending on the cause and, despite how close we are to our pets, it can sometimes go unnoticed as their other senses (such as smell and hearing) are much more heightened than ours. A blind pet often learns to compensate by using these other senses and many will continue to lead a happy life.
A common symptom of vision loss might be your pet bumping into things, often initially in dim light where vision loss is gradual. Pets learn to navigate their familiar environments instinctively so setting them a little obstacle course and calling them towards you can help you identify if their vision is poor. Another symptom of vision loss to watch out for is your pet becoming more clingy with you as they use you for comfort and guidance.
Remember- it is important to be vigilant regarding our pet’s eye health as the earlier a problem is identified the more likely it can be successfully treated. Check your pets’ eyes daily so you know what is normal for him/her and to get them used to having their eyes examined.
Should you have any concerns please seek veterinary attention immediately.