Basset Hound Eye Problems

The basset hound breed is a scent dog belonging to the hound family. Basset hounds have short legs, a dewlap and trailing ears that help them trap scents. The dewlap is the loose skin that hangs beneath the neck and forms wrinkles. A breed standard of basset hounds is their slightly sunken eyes with sagging lower eyelids. This characteristic makes the basset hound susceptible to numerous eye problems that include:

  • Entropian or ectropian
  • Primary glaucoma
  • Dermoid cysts
  • Ulcerative keratitis
  • Nictitans gland protrusion

Entropian and Ectropian of the Eyelids

Entropian, also known as "diamond eye", is a rolling inward of the eyelids. This may allow the eyelashes or hair around the eyes to rub against the cornea, causing discomfort and constant tearing. Entropian can result in eye damage and loss of vision due to scarring of the cornea. Very young basset hounds with entropian may require a procedure called 'tacking' in which the eyelids are turned out with sutures. The sutures are kept in for up to 3 weeks to allow the eyelids to grow away from contact with the eyeball. An adult basset hound that develops entropian will require surgery to roll the lid outward into correct placement.

Ectropian is an eversion, or turning out of the eyelids. Eversion of the eyelid exposes the sensitive inner lining to foreign particles that can irritate or damage the eye. Irritants in the eye can also cause excessive tearing, known as epiphora. Although tears are made to flush the foreign particles when the dog blinks, the ectropian still prevents adequate dispersal of tears throughout the eye. A veterinarian may determine that surgical correction of the ectropian is necessary to prevent permanent damage to the eye.

Primary Glaucoma

Basset hounds are predisposed to primary glaucoma. Glaucoma is an increased internal pressure of the eye due to a blockage of eye fluid. Eyeball enlargement can lead to permanent damage of the retina and loss of vision. The eye may appear bloodshot with a dilated pupil and cloudy cornea. Medications may be prescribed to temporarily alleviate pain and reduce the pressure within the eye. Most cases will eventually require hospitalization and medical treatment to prevent blindness. If one eye develops primary glaucoma, it is likely that the other eye will develop the same condition.

Congenital Dermoid Cysts

Dermoid cysts are congenital defects that occur on the eyeball and resemble skin. Dermoids do not usually grow very large but can grow hair that irritates the eye. Most dermoids do not require surgical removal unless the irritation is severe or vision is obstructed.

Ulcerative Keratitis

Also known as corneal ulcers, ulcerative keratitis may penetrate one or all layers of cornea, causing inflammation and deterioration of the cornea. Corneal ulcers can be very painful and cause sensitivity to visual stimuli and light. Treatment requires prescription pain relief and possible surgery or artificial lenses.

Nictitans Gland Protrusion

Cherry eye, or nictitans gland protrusion, is a protrusion of the gland inside the third eyelid. The third eyelid is between the eyeball and the outer eyelid. It protects and lubricates the eyeball. If the gland within the third eyelid protrudes and is exposed, it becomes irritated and inflamed, resembling a cherry. Medication may be prescribed to alleviate discomfort. Most cases of cherry eye require surgical correction.