Many animals rely on their sight extensively, which is why glaucoma in dogs can be a devastating condition. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, glaucoma is defined as an increase in intra-ocular pressure (IOP), which refers to the amount of fluid inside the eye.
Fluid is natural in all eyes, and its normal function is to provide nutrients and oxygen to the various structures in the eye. However, a build-up of this fluid can cause an increase in IOP, leading to glaucoma. When the eye is functioning correctly, the fluid is naturally drained through a small area inside the eye. Glaucoma is always the result of a lack of drainage rather than excessive production of fluid.
Glaucoma is divided into both primary and secondary classifications. Primary glaucoma refers to the disease in a healthy eye, while secondary glaucoma is brought on as the result of some other problem within the eye. Tumors, damage to the lens, and uveitis in dogs may all be causes of secondary glaucoma.
In secondary glaucoma, it's typically some type of inflammation or blockage preventing the fluid from being drained. Primary glaucoma is usually caused by inherited defects in the eye drainage angle which results in much of the fluid staying trapped inside the eye. Although it is an inherited issue the condition tends to worsen as the dog ages.
All of the clinical signs of glaucoma will be associated with the eye. Owners will likely notice a watery discharge coming from the eye. The dog may also squint, close, shield or turn its eye, especially when the owner goes to touch that side of the face. Any sort of eye bulging should be immediately brought to a veterinarian.
Bringing your dog to a veterinary clinic as soon as possible is important when it comes to glaucoma. Blindness can form very quickly if the fluid is not drained from the eye early enough, and this is irreversible once it sets in. In less severe cases, medication may help the eye to naturally drain the fluid. In more extreme situations, the veterinarian may need to perform surgery on the dog's eye.
Some breeds are at a higher risk for glaucoma than others. Beagles, Boston terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Greyhounds, Great Danes, Shih tzus, poodles, dalmatians and huskies are some of these breeds, among others. Owners of these breeds should take extra care to look for the clinical signs of glaucoma.