Symptoms of Glaucoma in Dogs

Glaucoma in dogs is an eye condition that can impair a canine's vision. It's caused when a dog has too much pressure in his eye. Knowing the symptoms of glaucoma and seeking immediate veterinary care can help prevent blindness, which is often associated with this condition.

Glaucoma Explained

The aqueous humor is a clear liquid in a dog's eye that is made by the ciliary body cells and helps keep its round shape. The aqueous humor flows into the back of the dog's eye and moves towards the front part of the lens via the pupil, into the front chamber of the eye.

In healthy eyes, the amount of liquid made by a dog's body is equal to the amount of liquid that gets re-absorbed into the bloodstream. When the dog's body produces too much aqueous humor, pressure within the eye builds up and the dog develops glaucoma. The extra pressure can also make a dog's eyes bulge or get bigger. When a dog develops glaucoma, usually the left eye is affected first. However, the disease will eventually affect both eyes in as little as 6 months after the onset of symptoms.

Symptoms of Glaucoma in Dogs 

A dog with glaucoma will be in pain, which he will show by not eating, seeming irritable, not wanting to be touched, or seeming more tired than usual. When a dog first develops glaucoma, his eyes may look red or bloodshot, or look like they have an infection. Because of the disturbance in the eye, a dog will tear-up.

Glaucoma causes a dog's eyes to become sensitive. Sometimes the sensitivity is so great that he will not want to be around light, a condition known as photophobia. The photophobia can be severe enough to cause a dog pain when his eyes are open: hence the reason a dog will seem like he is hiding or squinting his eyes a lot. The dog is just trying to escape the pain caused by the light. 

In the healthy eye of a dog, the cornea is clear, but glaucoma will cause the cornea to lose this quality and become cloudy. The eye can also become so enlarged that he can't close his eyelids over them, which can cause ulcers on the cornea. The pupil of the dog's eye may also be dilated and will react slowly to light. Pressure on the retina and optic nerve can eventually cause a dog to go blind in the eye affected. If the dog is helped within 72 hours after the on-sent of glaucoma-related loss of sight, there is a chance the blindness can be reversible.

Dogs in the northern part of the United States develop glaucoma more often than their southern counterparts; and symptoms are most often seen during the winter months. Female dogs develop glaucoma three times more than males. Glaucoma is a serious condition to affect a dog's eye that requires immediate help. The longer a pet owner waits to seek treatment for his dog, the worse the condition will get.