Diagnosing Dog Eye Problems

Dog eye problems can be either minor and easily curable, or more severe as in the case of cataracts or glaucoma. In order to determine the type of eye condition that the dog is suffering from, the vet will perform diagnostic tests along with careful consideration of the physical symptoms exhibited.

Symptoms of Eye Problems

It’s important to diagnose the eye condition in time to prevent permanent damage. Symptoms of eye disease include eye discharge, redness, inflammation and inability to focus. Pets may also try to rub their face or eyes against a surface due to the irritation.

Common Canine Eye Problems Include:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Cataract
  • Glaucoma
  • Eye drainage
  • Corneal ulcers

Diagnosis of Conjunctivitis

Canine conjunctivitis occurs when there’s an inflammation in the mucous membrane of the eye. Conjunctivitis may occur when the eye is irritated by environmental factors such as dust, bacteria or viruses. Pets will feel lethargic, and the eyes appear pinkish in color. Dogs will also appear more sensitive to light, and exhibit increased tear production. To diagnose conjunctivitis, the vet will conduct a physical examination of the eye and consider external eye changes before confirming the condition.

Diagnosis of Canine Cataract

The vet will look for clinical signs of cataract, which include a bluish or whitish appearance to the eye and symptoms of blindness or difficulty focusing. Diagnostic tests for cataract involve the use of an indirect ophthalmoscope and a slit lamp biomicroscope to examine the interior of the eye. An ophthalmoscope helps to check the eye with a narrow beam of light that’s passed through the lens. It also contains a perforated mirror and lenses, through which the examination is conducted. The slit lamp biomicroscope enables the vet to examine the eye under magnification.

Diagnosis of Glaucoma

Glaucoma in dogs occurs when there’s a buildup of fluid known as aqueous humor. The pet’s eye will also appear red, sore and opaque. The pupils of the eye may become dilated, and there’s an increase in eye pressure. Glaucoma is a medical emergency and treatment commences as soon as glaucoma is diagnosed. The vet will use a tonometer to check the eye pressure and conduct an ultrasonography of the eye to examine the interior of the eye, which can't be seen through a regular eye test. An ophthalmologist may also be required to perform gonioscopy to choose the best method to drain the eye.

Eye Drainage

To detect the cause of eye drainage, the vet will examine the pet’s eye and check for foreign objects, shallow eye sockets and changes to the eyelids. The vet also examines the interior of the eye to detect previous eye infections or injury. A sample of the discharge may be sent for laboratory testing to identify eye infection.

Corneal Ulcers

Corneal ulcers result in cell loss in the eye. This condition has to be treated in time to prevent permanent eye damage. The diagnosis includes an intra-ocular examination that enables the vet to check the cornea and the internal chambers of the eye. A Schirmer tear test is also conducted, to check the amount of tears produced by the affected eye. This test is relatively painless and takes a minute to perform. A tear strip is placed on the lower eyelid, which induces tear production. The tears are then absorbed by the strip and a reading is taken. The vet will perform a fluorescein test that involves the use of a dye in the eye to examine the ulcers.

Eye conditions can be successfully treated with surgery and medication if they are noticed in time. Pet owners should also keep dogs away from dust and smoke, as this causes severe irritation to the eyes.