As adoring pet owners, we love to gaze into our dogs’ and cats’ eyes. This peaceful experience can lower blood pressure and cause the feel good hormone oxytocin to be released in both people and pets. However, such a zen state can turn into a cause for concern if you discover an abnormality in your beloved pet’s eyes. 

Pets can be afflicted with many eye disorders, and while they may vary in severity, they are all concerning. Ocular conditions can deteriorate rapidly and be incredibly painful for your pet. If you notice a change in your furry friend’s expression, schedule an appointment with our team at Southwest Vet. Here’s a look at  the 10 most common pet eye disorders.

#1: Cataracts in pets

What you see: Your pet’s eye has a sudden milky or bluish-white cloudiness in the center. You try to wipe it away, but it doesn’t move.

Cataracts are a non-painful opacity of the lens, which is located in the middle of the eye. Cataracts cause vision impairment by preventing incoming light from reaching the back of the eye, and they may eventually lead to blindness. Some dog breeds are genetically predisposed to cataracts, and cataracts also can be caused by certain medical conditions and trauma.

#2: Glaucoma in pets

What you see: Your pet’s eye is swollen, red, and cloudy, and they are behaving strangely.

Glaucoma is an increase in intraocular pressure. In a healthy eye, fluid is produced behind the pupil and drained to the space between the cornea and iris to maintain balanced pressure. When the fluid drainage is interrupted, pressure within the eye rises to dangerous and extremely painful levels, and vision is lost. Glaucoma requires emergency treatment or enucleation (i.e., removal of the eye).

#3: Conjunctivitis in pets

What you see: Your pet’s eyelids are red and swollen, and the eyes are draining yellow or green mucus.

Conjunctivitis occurs when the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane on the inside of the eyelid and eye, is irritated or infected by a bacteria or virus. Common irritants include debris such as seeds, dust, grass, or allergens. Antibiotics and sterile saline are often prescribed.

#4: Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) in pets

What you see: Your pet seems disoriented in new places or is suddenly blind.

PRA is a devastating condition that results from progressive retinal cell deterioration. The retina is involved in translating light to images in the brain. The gradual cell death causes steady vision loss, and owners often do not know their pet is affected until they are challenged by a new environment or lose their vision completely.

#5: Corneal ulceration in pets

What you see: Your pet is blinking rapidly or squinting, and the eye may be red or producing excessive tears.

The cornea is the eye’s clear, outermost layer and is covered by a thin layer of epithelial cells. Injury to the eye from a puncture, abrasion, or irritant can damage this layer and cause pain and infection. Your pet’s veterinarian will stain the eye during their ocular exam. Any ulcerated area will take up the dye.

#6: Lenticular sclerosis in pets

What you see: Your senior pet’s eye has a blue-gray haze, but they appear to have normal vision.

Lenticular sclerosis, also known as nuclear sclerosis, is a natural aging change that appears as a blue transparent cast over the eye. Unlike cataracts, this condition does not significantly affect your pet’s vision but it may reduce their ability to focus on close objects.

#7: Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (“dry eye”) in pets

What you see: Your pet’s eyes are red and produce a heavy mucus discharge. Your pet rubs at their eyes and may squint.

Tears are necessary to maintain eye health, by nourishing the eye and removing debris. When tear production is reduced because of a congenital disorder, surgically removed ducts, or medication reaction, the eye becomes dry, damaged, infected, and painful. Artificial tears and medication to stimulate tear production can improve this condition. 

#8: Eyelid tumors in pets

What you see: You see a mass on your pet’s eyelid or in the corner of their eye. Your pet frequently rubs their face and eye.

Eyelid tumors can be benign or malignant, and can arise from the conjunctival tissue or tiny glands in the lid called meibomian glands. All eyelid tumors are irritating to the eye, and frequent rubbing can cause ulceration and infection. Surgical removal and biopsy are advised.

#9: Prolapsed third eyelid (i.e., cherry eye) in pets

What you see: Your pet has a red cyst in the inner corner of their eye, which may come and go.

Dogs and cats have three eyelids, with one tucked in the corner of the eye nearest the nose. This third eyelid contains a tear gland and remains out of sight below the eye where it is held in place by a small ligament. In this genetic condition, the ligament is weakened and the eyelid protrudes into the eye. The prolapsed lid and gland cause discomfort, and should be surgically tacked in place. Removal is not recommended because it causes chronic dry eye.

#10: Entropion in pets

What you see: Your pet’s eyes are draining and red, and their eyelids may be swollen.

Entropion is a genetic abnormality that causes the eyelids to roll inward. The eyelashes and external hair rub against the eye, causing irritation of the globe and conjunctiva. Prolonged irritation causes ulceration, scarring, and pigment deposits. This condition requires surgical correction to pull the lower lids taut and prevent inversion.  

When your pet’s eyes are less than dreamy, don’t wait to contact Southwest Vet. Our veterinarians can diagnose your pet’s condition and ease their pain and discomfort.