Canine Glaucoma Treatment with Cryosurgery

Canine glaucoma is the result of too much pressure within a dog’s eye. With new developments in glaucoma treatments, cryosurgery is an option more pet owners are choosing to help dogs with this ocular disease.

Canine Glaucoma

A normal dog eye has fluid in it called the aqueous humor, which is eventually drained into the bloodstream as new fluid forms. When the production of the aqueous humor exceeds how much is being drained, too much pressure builds up within a dog’s anterior chamber of the eye. This pressure causes damage to the optic nerve and leads to vision loss.

Symptoms of glaucoma include:

  • Red eyes
  • Squinting
  • Photophobia
  • Eyes that bulge
  • Dry eyes
  • A cloudy look to the dog’s eye

 After diagnosing glaucoma, treatment can begin.

Canine Glaucoma Treatment with Cryosurgery

The goals of glaucoma treatment are to fix the underlying cause behind the condition, to save or restore vision and to decrease pressure within the canine eye. Surgical treatment is used to stop the production of the aqueous humor and is usually employed after the use of medications and other therapies didn’t work. Cryosurgery is one procedure that can accomplish this, with freezing techniques that don’t involve cutting into the eye.

When cryosurgery is used to treat canine glaucoma, a dog is placed under anesthesia and a probe that’s as cold as -80˚C is used on the sclera (the outside of the eye) to freeze the ciliary body, to kill the cells that produce the aqueous humor. The amount of damage done to the ciliary body has to be sufficient enough to make sure there is a balance between the production of the aqueous humor and its drainage.

This surgery can be done on dogs that are blind or still have vision. However, when a dog is already blind as a result of glaucoma, the goal of treatment is relieve the pressure in the affected eye and provide some much needed comfort. Cryosurgery can be aggressive, and is typically used as a last resort, because this treatment option can destroy much of the inside of a dog’s eye in an attempt to relieve the pressure.

Risks of Canine Glaucoma Treatment with Cryosurgery

After cryosurgery to treat glaucoma, a dog’s whites of the eyes will be red, which is normal. Complications that can arise after this procedure include a detachment of the retina, intraocular pressure and bleeding that can lead to the placement of a shunt or blindness. Other risks of cryosurgery for canine glaucoma include post-operative eye shrinkage, atrophy of the iris and cataracts. There is also a chance a dog will develop glaucoma again, even after the procedure.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in dogs. Cryosurgery, being minimally invasive, is a good treatment option for dogs with glaucoma after other treatments (medical or surgical) weren’t found to be effective. If a dog has been having difficulty resolving his glaucoma with the use of initial medical treatments, cryosurgery may be a good option to discuss with a canine veterinary ophthalmologist.