Our dog’s eyesight declines with age in the same way as it does with us, humans. The clouding of vision could mainly be attributed to 4 incredibly common and serious conditions, being:
Cataracts are the most common cause and cataract formation is the clouding of the lens. Age-related cataract is the most common reason for cataract formation in both humans and canines. The hardening of the lens occurs through a process inevitable in ageing called cross-linking or glycation. This is when the body can no longer keep the oxygen, protein and sugar balance in check. The net result will be too much water entering the lens and the lens becomes hard, brittle and opaque rather than soft, flexible and transparent. The obvious result is vision loss.
The development of cataract is very obvious to see in older dogs when their eyes become a blue-grey colour instead of white. If you notice a change to your dog’s eyes take your pet to the professional vet like Comet Bay Vet Hospital for a correct diagnosis, especially as there is a common mistake made by dog owners thinking they can see cataract formation when in fact it is a condition called nuclear sclerosis. This condition does not affect your dog’s eyesight, so it’s best to not jump to incorrect conclusions. Of course, as with your eyes, regular, yearly checkups for your eyes is extremely important as are preventive methods such as a good diet and using a super antioxidant like N-acetyl-carnosine which is found in eye drops.
The common ‘cure’ for cataracts is to have the lens removed surgically.
However not all dogs are suitable for surgery, examples being diabetic dogs (especially those that are not well regulated), aggressive dogs, dogs with poor health or simply too old or frail. Dogs do die under surgical conditions, so an alternative non-evasive treatment could be your best choice.
Staying on the subject of elderly dogs, another condition for which they are susceptible is Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye. This is when the tissue surrounding the eyelids and eyeball (the conjunctiva) becomes inflamed. Your dog will probably suffer considerable distress as the redness manifests into the white parts of its eye and begins to release discharge. This condition could be caused by an irritant, minor eye trauma, viral infection, an allergy or a variety of underlying eye diseases.
The quickest route to cure will be the correct diagnosis of the cause of the condition by your vet.
Asteroidal or antibiotic topical preparation will usually be prescribed to clear up the infection but if the cause is undiscovered it may be a slow process to cure your dog’s condition. Once the conjunctivitis is cleared it would be advisable to use a health-promoting eye lubricant such as n-acetyl-carnosine eye drops which are sold under various brand names.
Dry eye is one of the most common, usually improperly diagnosed, eye conditions suffered by humans affecting millions worldwide. In dogs, it used to be referred to as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or KCS, but now they share the same all-encompassing term ‘dry eye’. The most frequent way the dry eye is described is when you or your dog does not produce enough tears. This author does not agree with this view but that is for another article entirely.
Certain breeds are more likely to suffer from dry eye but common causes include allergies, drug reaction and once again age. If left untreated, this incredibly uncomfortable condition could lead to blindness as the surface of the cornea can become increasingly more damaged.
As with conjunctivitis a dog suffering with dry eye usually has a red-eye that discharges thick mucus. If your dog has started to squint or is frequently pawing its eyes, get an appointment at the vet.
As with humans, dry eye cannot be cured in your dog.
The traditional route will be with artificial tears, antibiotic medications and/or Cyclosporine in cream or liquid form. The treatment will be multiple times daily for the rest of your dog’s life. Using an antioxidant eye drop could assist with dry eye by clearing away the age-related debris to give the eye the best environment for optimal eye health. Eye drops containing n-acetyl-carnosine have been specifically designed to get to work where needed in the eye. The approved formulation has the correct delivery system to supply the antioxidant N-acetyl-carnosine to the relevant, damaged area. Although dry eye cannot be cured, why not give your or your dog’s eyes the best opportunity to heal themselves.
Glaucoma occurs when the fluid in the eye cannot be drained away into the circulatory system, thus causing fluid pressure within the eye to increase. The optic nerve can become irreversibly damaged if this pressure continues to increase and without treatment, your dog may lose its eye. In humans, Glaucoma isn’t aggressive and it tends to be a condition which builds up over time, the same is not true in dogs. If you notice any of the following symptoms please act quickly: Redness of the eye, dilated pupils, twitching eyelids, an enlargement of the eye, light sensitivity, colour change within the eye, loss of vision, pawing to the eyes and regular head tilting to one side (to alleviate the built-up pressure). It could be as little as days for your dog to lose its eye to Glaucoma. The main reason for your dog to stay with the vet 24 hours after cataract surgery is immediate post-op glaucoma (yet another risk of canine cataract surgery).
If your dog hasn’t already lost its sight, eye surgery is possible to either diminish the production of fluid or to bypass the blockage. To reduce pressure within the eye prescription medications can help. If your dog’s pupil no longer reacts to light then it has lost its vision and sadly the usual course of action is the removal of the damaged eye to eliminate any infection or pain caused by the disease. Glaucoma in dogs usually results in blindness and should your dog suffer it in one eye, it is commonplace for the other eye to follow suit. If you suspect Glaucoma, act as quickly as possible to buy some time for your precious pooch.