Corneal (eye) ulcer
Open sore on the surface of the eye
A corneal ulcer can cause a variety of symptoms in pets. Watch for the following signs:
- Excessive blinking or squinting
- Redness or inflammation of the eye
- Discharge, excessive tearing, or crustiness around the eye
- Pawing or rubbing at the affected eye
- Cloudiness or opaque appearance to your pet's eye
- Sensitivity to light, bothered by bright light or avoids well-lit areas
- Vision changes, such as signs of vision loss, bumping into objects, or difficulty seeing
Other health conditions may share similar symptoms with a corneal ulcer, including eye infections, foreign material (e.g., grass) trapped under the eyelid, or other ocular trauma. In some cases, corneal ulcers can be associated with underlying health conditions, such as dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), corneal dystrophy, or eyelid abnormalities.
If you notice any of these signs or have concerns about your pet's health, it's important to consult with your veterinarian. Ulcers can progress quickly, and waiting can lead to vision loss and pain for your pet. Early detection and intervention can improve the chances of successful management and prevent complications.
When you visit your veterinarian for concerns related to a corneal ulcer, the following may occur:
- Medical History: They will take a detailed medical history, including any signs and their duration.
- Physical examination: The veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of your pet, paying particular attention to the affected eye and checking for any abnormalities.
- Diagnostic testing: Diagnostic testing such as fluorescein staining or use of a specialized light source, such as a slit lamp, may be recommended to evaluate the presence and severity of a corneal ulcer. These tests help identify the extent of the ulcer and assess the involvement of other structures of the eye.
- Treatment options: Treatment options for a corneal ulcer can vary depending on the severity, size, and underlying cause. It may involve medications such as eye drops or ointments to promote healing, reduce inflammation, and prevent infection. In some cases, an Elizabethan collar (cone) may be necessary to prevent further self-trauma.
- Advanced diagnostic or treatment options: In severe cases, referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist may be advised for more advanced diagnostics and treatment.
- Follow-up care: Your veterinarian will discuss a follow-up plan, which may involve regular monitoring of the ulcer's progress, additional tests, or adjustments to the treatment regimen.
Your veterinary healthcare team will partner with you to decide which treatment option is best for your pet's and your family’s specific condition and situation.
While it may not be possible to completely prevent corneal ulcers, there are things you can do at home to help protect your pet's eyes:
- Avoid eye irritants: Keep your pet away from potential eye irritants such as dust, chemicals, or sharp objects.
- Protect the eyes: During activities that may pose a risk to the eyes, such as playing with other pets or in rough environments, consider using protective goggles specifically designed for pets.
- Regular grooming: Keep the hair around your pet’s eyes trimmed to prevent it from irritating or rubbing against the cornea.
- Monitor playtime: Be cautious during playtime and avoid activities that could lead to eye injuries, such as playing with sharp objects or in areas with dense vegetation.
Consult with your veterinarian for personalized advice and guidance on preventing corneal ulcers in your pet. They can provide tailored recommendations based on your pet’s specific needs and medical history.
Please note that the information provided here is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If you suspect your pet has a corneal ulcer or any other health concerns, consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.