What is Glaucoma in Dogs

What is Glaucoma in Dogs?

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Glaucoma in dogs is a disease that develops suddenly and can lead to vision loss in a short period of time if left untreated. There is no cure, but early treatment can save vision. Sato, a veterinarian, explains the difference from cataracts, causes and symptoms, and treatment methods such as eye drops and surgery.

What is Glaucoma in Dogs?

Glaucoma is a disease in which increased intraocular pressure (pressure inside the eyeball) damages the optic nerve, eventually leading to blindness. If the intraocular pressure can be lowered while vision is still visible, there is a possibility of recovery, but once vision is lost, it cannot be restored.

It takes from several hours to several tens of hours from the time when the intraocular pressure rises to the loss of vision, and there is no time to wait and see if something is wrong. However, when the owner notices that the eyes have grown, the so-called “cow eye”, the eyesight has already been lost.

Even if the dog loses his sight, the pressure in the eye will remain high and the dog will continue to feel pain. In that case, the only options are eye drops, surgical treatment such as “inserting a silicone eye prosthesis” or “electomy”. Early detection and early treatment are very important diseases.

Causes of increased eye pressure

Intraocular pressure increases as the amount of water in the eye (aqueous humor) increases. Aqueous humor is originally produced by the ciliary body, passes in front of the lens, and is discharged from the angle.

When the angle is clogged or the flow is blocked and the aqueous humor cannot drain out, it accumulates in front of the lens (anterior chamber) , which pushes the lens and increases intraocular pressure. At the back of the eye is the retina, which senses light, and the optic nerve, which transmits light to the brain. The optic nerve is a very delicate tissue and is easily damaged by intraocular pressure. And a damaged optic nerve cannot be cured.

Difference Between Glaucoma and Cataract

There is a disease called cataract, which has a similar name to glaucoma, but this is a disease in which the lens becomes cloudy and blinds the eye. While glaucoma cannot restore lost vision, cataracts can be restored by replacing the lens with an artificial lens.

Glaucoma can also be caused by cataracts.

dog breeds prone to glaucoma

Any dog ​​can develop glaucoma regardless of breed, age, or gender, but just like humans, the older the dog, the more likely it is to develop glaucoma. Common dog breeds include Shiba Inu, Shih Tzu, American Cocker Spaniel, Chihuahua, and Beagle.

Symptoms of Glaucoma in Dogs

Because glaucoma is painful, it changes behavior as well as the eyes themselves. The disease progresses very quickly and can lead to blindness in a short period of time. If you feel anything unusual and see any of these symptoms, please go to the veterinarian immediately.

eye changes

  • red eyes
  • eyes become cloudy
  • The inside of the eye looks green
  • eyes get bigger
  • eyelids cramp
  • Excessive tears or eye discharge
  • Close ~ eyes
  • Enlarged eyes (bumen)

behavior change

  • to dazzle
  • scratch your eyes
  • bump into things
  • I’m not feeling well
  • Anorexia
  • vomiting
  • Reluctance to be touched on the head or around the eyes

Glaucoma may also be caused by another disease (secondary) and may have symptoms specific to that disease.

Read Also: Horner’s Syndrome in Dogs

Causes of glaucoma in dogs

The causes of glaucoma can be broadly divided into three categories: congenital, primary, and secondary.

congenital glaucoma

Although it is rare in dogs, it develops within six months of life due to abnormalities (malformations) in the angle that drains the aqueous humor from birth. If only one eye is affected, there is a high probability that the other will also be affected.

primary glaucoma

An increase in intraocular pressure due to abnormalities in the drainage of aqueous humor, without accompanying disease. It is suspected that it is hereditary, including the above-mentioned common dog breeds. If only one eye is affected, there is a high probability that the other will also be affected.

secondary glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs secondary to an eye disease that causes increased intraocular pressure. The most common are cataract, uveitis, anterior lens dislocation, intraocular tumor, retinal detachment, and intraocular hemorrhage.

Canine Glaucoma Treatment

Once glaucoma develops, there is no cure. The treatment policy differs greatly between the “acute phase” in which vision can be restored and the “chronic phase” in which there is no possibility.

Diagnosis of glaucoma is based on an intraocular pressure test. In addition, a slit lamp examination, which examines the inside of the eye by illuminating the eye with a narrow light, fundus examination, gonioscopy, and ultrasonography, which confirms the presence or absence of visual acuity by checking for depression of the optic disc, is performed.

Treatment of acute glaucoma

Reducing intraocular pressure is the first priority to preserve vision. First of all, drips or eye drops are used to monitor the intraocular pressure and determine whether to reduce the amount of aqueous humor produced or increase the amount of aqueous humor discharged. Surgical treatment is performed if the desired effect cannot be expected.

Surgical treatments include shunt surgery, in which a medical tube is inserted into the eye to forcibly drain the aqueous humor, and surgery in which the ciliary body is necrotic with a medical laser to suppress the production of aqueous humor.. Since it is not a fundamental treatment, we will continue treatment to preserve vision in parallel with eye drops.

Treatment for chronic glaucoma

If you have already lost your sight, pain relief is your first priority. If left untreated, the dog will continue to feel pain, and it will progress to “bulb eyes” where the eyes become larger or “ophthalmia” where the eyes become smaller.

Since there is little significance in continuing to use eye drops to maintain a state in which there is no prospect of visual recovery, either “gentamicin injection”, “insertion of an artificial eye”, or “eye removal” is performed for chronic glaucoma.

Gentamicin is an antibiotic that is injected into the vitreous inside the eye to kill the ciliary body and reduce aqueous humor production. If gentamicin is not effective, consider “insertion of an artificial eye” or “enucleation”.

In the case of enucleation, there is a large change in appearance because the removed eye is closed. In the past, it was common to remove the eyeball, but with the spread of silicone eye prostheses, insertion of prostheses has become common.


  • Glaucoma is a disease that causes increased intraocular pressure leading to blindness
  • If left untreated, vision is lost and cannot be restored
  • All dogs can be affected, but some breeds are prone to
  • Early detection and early treatment are very important

Glaucoma is a disease that causes vision loss in a short period of time and is irreversible. It is a disease that is difficult for owners to notice, but if it can be detected early, it can be treated to preserve vision. If you feel something strange, don’t hesitate to go to the hospital.

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