Dr. Paul A. Gerding, Jr. DVM MS
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists
As a practicing veterinary ophthalmologist for over 15 years, I am still amazed at the number of people that I come across that are not aware of their pet’s eye care needs or the effect that an eye disorder may have on their pet’s over-all well being.
There are numerous ocular disorders that may result in a profound change in your pet’s normal behavior which may lead to lethargy (appearing tired or depressed), unwillingness to play or exercise, withdrawal from social engagement and decreased appetite.
One common ocular disorder that we encounter is entropion - which is a condition where the eyelids roll inward and result in corneal ulceration, pain, and increased tearing. Surgical correction will restore them to their original behavior.
Glaucoma, or increased intraocular pressure, is one of the most common causes of pain that may have a profound effect on daily behavior. Certain breeds are naturally predisposed to this disorder but it can occur in any dog or cat. Medical or surgical treatment of this disease may result in a dramatic change in behavior or personality.
A very commonly occurring disorder of the lens includes cataract formation. Just like in human beings, the lens becomes cloudy and eventually may lead to complete blindness. Occurring more commonly in dogs than in cats, progression may be quite slow and a dog’s natural adaptation to their surroundings may hide the fact that they are actually nonvisual. However, if a cataract were to occur rapidly, such as what typically happens when a dog is diabetic, this sudden vision loss may result in high anxiety and depression.
One of our most commonly performed surgical procedures in our practices is cataract removal surgery-which often includes replacement of the removed cataractous lens with an artificial intraocular lens implant. The change in the quality of a pet’s daily behavior from blind to normal eyesight is one of our most satisfying achievements. Not every dog is a candidate for this surgery but it is certainly worthwhile to have an examination to find out if it is possible.
Another disorder that occurs in eyes of dogs is detachment of the retina. This may occur in response to a number of underlying problems such as high blood pressure, inflammation from long standing cataracts, immune system disorders, and others. If present in both eyes, total vision loss may occur. If retinal detachment occurs rapidly in both eyes, your pet may experience anxiety as well as depression and withdrawal from their normal social activities. Many times this problem can occur with no observable symptoms of redness, tearing, holding eyelids closed, etc. Depending on the cause of the detachment, either medical or surgical therapy may be indicated. The Eye Care for Animals hospital in Wheeling, Illinois is one of the few centers in the country where retinal reattachment surgery is frequently and successfully performed.
Finally, a frequently diagnosed cause of ocular pain that may lead to changes in behavior is trauma to the cornea or surface of the eye. The surface layer of the cornea holds one of the greatest number of pain receptors of any where in the body. A corneal scratch or ulcer may be profoundly painful. This often results in observable redness of the eye, increased tearing and complete closure of the eyelids. When this is present, your pet may shy away from any contact and act depressed. If left untreated, the ulcer may deepen considerably and even rupture. Seeking help early in the course of an ulcer will likely prevent this from occurring and keep your pet pain free.
At Eye Care for Animals, our doctors and staff have devoted their careers to provide caring and state of the art treatment for your pet’s eyes. Our hospitals that are across the country are devoted entirely to the specialty of veterinary ophthalmology. We are pleased to provide our services to improve the health of our patients and well being of our clients.
Dr. Paul A. Gerding, Jr. DVM MS
Eye Care for Animals
3123 N. Clybourn Avenue • Chicago, IL 60618