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Glaucoma in Cats and Dogs - Symptoms and Treatment

 Understanding Glaucoma in Dogs and Cats

Glaucoma is a disease caused by excessive pressure from the fluid inside your pet’s eye.  Some pressure is necessary in the eye in order to keep its shape.  In normally functioning eyes, the flow rate of this fluid is regulated to keep a steady pressure.  When too much of this fluid is made, however, pressure builds up and causes this potentially serious disorder.

Primary Glaucoma

This type of glaucoma occurs when fluid flows within the eye or when the fluid flows out through the eye canal.  Most pets that develop primary glaucoma do so because there is two narrow of an angle for the fluid to flow correctly.  This is the opposite of the cause of primary glaucoma in humans.  Certain medications such as Timoptic eye drops and Truspot eye drops can be used to treat primary glaucoma.

Secondary Glaucoma

Secondary Glaucoma is caused by disease.  As a result, the eye makes too much fluid or has a problem with regulating the outflow of fluids.  A systemic fungal infection can lead to glaucoma.  Animals who have been hit by a car sometimes develop glaucoma, as well, because the lens gets shaken loose and blocks the flow of fluid.  Pets are twice as likely to develop secondary glaucoma than primary glaucoma.  In order to properly treat secondary glaucoma, it is necessary to first treat the underlying cause.

Effects of Glaucoma

Glaucoma can be extremely painful to your pet.  This pain is brought on by the sudden changes of pressure associated with the disease.  Acute-onset Glaucoma, which is Glaucoma that develops suddenly, is generally more painful than glaucoma that develops gradually over time. 

In addition, Glaucoma can lead to blindness.  In fact, 40% of dogs with Glaucoma go blind within the first year, even when receiving treatment.  50% of pets that develop Glaucoma in one eye, however, will also develop the disease in the other eye if left untreated.

Risk Factors

In addition to the risk of Glaucoma being increased in animals that endure trauma to their eyes, certain breeds of animals are also more likely to develop the disorder.  While cats rarely develop Glaucoma, certain breeds of dogs often do.  These include Akita, Siberian Husky, Basset Hound, Chow Chow, Beagle, Chihuahua, Maltese, Cocker Spaniel, Norwegian Elkhound, Fox Terrier, Dachshund, Poodle, and Welsh Springer Spaniel.  For these breeds, it is important to have the dog’s eyes tested for Glaucoma every six months.

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