Like humans, dogs can develop glaucoma. It’s an ocular disease where pressure in the eye increases and, for almost all dogs affected, it results in blindness. When the fluid in your dog’s eye, called aqueous fluid, fails to drain properly, there becomes an overabundance of it in the eye itself. That’s what causes the pressure, which can damage both the retina and the optic nerve. Dogs can have two types of glaucoma: primary, where the issues are typically inherited; or secondary, where the outflow or circulation of fluid in the front of the eye is blocked, sometimes by trauma, injury, or a tumor. Secondary glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma in dogs.
Your dog’s breed can have an effect on whether or not they get glaucoma, but in general, you should look out for these symptoms:
Typically, glaucoma starts in one eye and then affects the other later.
Tests to confirm glaucoma in dogs are typically eye tests, but can include other tests if it’s secondary glaucoma.
If glaucoma isn’t handled right away, it could result in blindness. Luckily there are some treatment options. Some medications, either topical or oral, can lower the pressure in the eye and reduce any pain it might be causing. A treatment called cyclocryotherapy can be used at the early stages of glaucoma; cold temperatures are used to kill the cells producing intraocular fluid. Sometimes, your vet may recommend removing the eye completely if your dog is in pain and fully blind in that eye.
Treatment can be pretty expensive, considering the need for eye exams, vet visits, medications, and possible surgeries. Expect to spend between $2,000 and $3,000 for treatment.
Hours at the vet: As little as 6 hours without surgery, as long as 12 hours or more with surgery.
Primary glaucoma in dogs is not preventable; it’s a hereditary condition. However, with genetic testing available, conscientious breeders can select away from this trait. Secondary glaucoma, though, can be prevented by keeping your dog (and their eyes) out of harm’s way, and getting any eye-related issue examined as soon as it occurs.
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