What is Eye Inflammation?
When working to understand eye issues, it's important to understand that the iris, ciliary body, and choroid make up the uvea, which is the middle layer of the eye. The uvea has a rich blood supply. Changes to the eye can be seen as a window that alerts us to diseases originating in other places in the body. Iridocyclitis, or anterior uveitis, affects specifically the iris and ciliary body only, and can be a very painful condition. Eye inflammation may occur as an idiopathic (of unknown cause) event but is often linked to many serious disease processes.If your dog is suffering from eye inflammation in the iris and ciliary body of the uvea of the eye, prompt veterinary attention is necessary. Your pet’s vision may be affected by the inflammation, which is classified in veterinary terms as anterior uveitis. It is also called iridocyclitis.
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Symptoms of Eye Inflammation in Dogs
If you notice that your pet’s eyes look abnormal, a visit to the veterinarian is crucial. The underlying cause must be investigated without delay. This is important because further deterioration of the condition of the eye and the risk of permanent vision loss are scenarios to be avoided. Your dog is also most likely in pain. The following symptoms are indication of anterior uveitis:
- Your dog may blink or squint often
- You may notice that your dog avoids bright lights
- The white area of the eye becomes red
- Tearing and/or discharge
- Your pet may paw at the eye
- There may be bleeding within the eye
- The iris may change color or shape
- Swelling of the eyeball
- The pupil may change in appearance
- The eye could become cloudy, appear dull or even look blue
TypesEye inflammation can lead to various types of changes within the eye:
- Change to aqueous humor
- Decrease in intraocular pressure
- Marked decrease in secretion
- Change in iris and pupil
- Iris becomes thick
- May be a sign of chronic inflammation
- Change in the cornea
- Associated with intense, acute inflammation
- Seen with chronic and recurrent disease
- Change to the lense and vitreous humor
- Cataracts can be secondary to uveitis
- Opaque clot adheres to anterior lense capsule
Causes of Eye Inflammation in Dogs
Because eye inflammation is usually secondary to an underlying disease, there are many causes that can be attributed to the condition:
- Canine herpes
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Lyme disease
- Rapid formation of cataracts
- Bacterial, viral or fungal infection
- Parasitic disease
- Autoimmune disease
- High blood pressure
- Injury such as blunt trauma, or penetration of the eye causing an issue like lens damage
- Corneal ulceration
Diagnosis of Eye Inflammation in Dogs
When you bring your dog to your veterinary caregiver, expect a very thorough examination and diagnostic procedure. Ocular issues can quickly develop into permanent damage such as loss of sight. As a pet owner, it is entirely possible that you will not be aware of the extent of your dog’s vision loss. Timely treatment and resolution are key to maintaining vision, and to the reduction of symptoms and pain.
The veterinarian will begin by investigating the complete medical history of your dog. A physical examination will follow, which will include a visual inspection of the internal and external portions of the eye. As well, a measurement of the intraocular pressure of the eye, a fairly simple procedure, will be done. A microscopic examination is possible, which involves drawing fluid from the eye for analysis.
The veterinarian will order tests to check for the presence of autoimmune disease, and the possibility of infectious organisms. A complete blood count and biochemical profile are to be expected as well.
Treatment of Eye Inflammation in Dogs
As is always the case when a secondary disease process may be involved, the underlying issue must be resolved along with the treatment of the inflammation. The first issue that the doctor will work to address is the reduction of inflammation in the eye. Of equal importance is the elimination of pain.
The protocol for the care of eye inflammation will include drops or ointment, and medication (often corticosteroids), all of which will aid in the relief of pain and swelling. Regulating the dilation of the pupil is important in order to maximize the correction of vision.
If an infection is found, antibiotics will be prescribed. Further damage resulting from scarring, retinal detachment, dry eye or ulcers will be treated. The repair of tears or a remedy in the form of removal of a foreign object may be needed to rectify the eye inflammation. In some severe cases, surgical removal of the eye will be advised.
Recovery of Eye Inflammation in Dogs
The prognosis for eye inflammation is often good. Many owners will see an improvement in the condition of their dog’s eyes within 24 hours of the first administration of eye drops.
If the veterinarian has prescribed eye drops or ointment to be given at home, your vigilance as a pet owner is key to a successful recovery. Not all dogs will cooperate fully when the eye drops are being dispensed; there is a natural reaction to close the eye or pull away when a foreign substance comes near. Patience on your part is very important. Before you leave the veterinary clinic, ask for a demonstration on how to apply the ointment or execute the eye drop procedure.
There may be a variation in the type of drops, depending on the use and expectations. Pay careful attention to the instructions. The concentration of the medication and how many times per day to give the drops are two important factors to be aware of. Consistency is paramount to a complete resolution of the inflammation. Never stop the eye drops or ointment abruptly; a gradual decrease is necessary.
The veterinarian will want to examine your dog periodically over the next few days or weeks to check on ocular pressure, drainage and vision correction. It should be noted, especially in cases where the owner has delayed, that severe cases of uveitis may result in a permanent visual deficit or the need for surgical removal of the eye.
Eye Inflammation Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My Basset Hound has had drainage from her eye for a week now. It started out clear and then yellow with crust formation in the corner. Today her eye and around her eye is very swollen. What could this be?
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Green/yellow puss coming from eye. Green/yellow cover on his eye.
An eye infection is most likely; you can wipe away the discharge and apply a triple antibiotic ointment (from the pet shop) to the eye to see if there is any improvement. I would however recommend you visit your Veterinarian to check Chill’s corneal for scratches or ulceration which can be very serious. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
My 2 month old puppy Kilo, has a red inflamed right eye. He doesn't scratch at it or anything but does have continuous discharge. Just a little bit of mucus/eye booger. Any suggestions on what to do?
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