French Mastiff Dog with eyes closed

Ophthalmology

One of the most important ways to keep your pet healthy and happy is to have their health checked by a veterinarian at least once a year. The veterinarian while perform a thorough physical examination, checking your pet’s weight, feeling their coat and palpating their organs, listening to their lungs and heart, looking in their mouth, ears and eyes and more. Ideally, this examination reveals that your pet is in good health, though if there are health issues that need to be addressed your veterinarian will be able to give you the information you need regarding the condition and its proper treatment.

In addition to a thorough physical examination and any necessary diagnostic testing, your pet will benefit from receiving an eye examination performed by a trained veterinary ophthalmologist if they seem to be suffering from any eye issues, or are more prone to experiencing eye issues.

Why Eye Examinations

Veterinary ophthalmologists are fully trained veterinarians who have participated in an additional 3-year residency program to specialize in ophthalmology. While any veterinarian may be able to detect some eye issues that can arise for pets and may even prescribe eye drops or antibiotics, veterinary ophthalmologists have the additional training necessary to really assess what is going on and how it can best be addressed in order to result in permanent resolution. This is much like the difference between your family physician and your optometrist–the former may be able to help you a bit, temporarily, with your eye problems, but your optometrist can help you get to the root of the issue and resolve it.

Just as is the case with the rest of the body, eye health is best established and maintained through preventive measures. A veterinary ophthalmologist is specially trained to detect any potential issues with a pet’s eyes so that these issues can be diagnosed and addressed as necessary, and before they exacerbate into major problems for your pet. This is especially important for kittens and certain breeds of dogs that are prone to eye problems. It’s an unfortunate fact that some breeds are more prone to eye issues than others, these breeds are labradors, german shepherds, jack russell terriers and shih zhus.

Veterinary ophthalmologists use a variety of equipment and tests in order to help pets with eye issues and conditions, such as:

  • Schirmer tear test. This test is used to determine whether pets have dry eye conditions.
  • Slit lamps. This tool can allow the ophthalmologist to check the anterior chambers of a pet’s eyes.
  • Fluorescein stain. This is used to check a pet for corneal ulcers.

A veterinary ophthalmologist is also trained to determine whether a pet’s eye issues are independent or whether they have resulted from other physical conditions. In some cases, this determination means that a physical diagnosis can be made or confirmed in order to open the door to appropriate treatment.

When Your Pet Needs to See a Veterinary Ophthalmologist

Any time your pet seems to be having problems with their eyes, you should have them checked by a veterinary ophthalmologist. Some of the most common symptoms of eye issues include:

  • Avoiding light
  • Bulging eyes
  • Keeping eye closed unnaturally
  • Cloudiness
  • Redness
  • Discharge
  • Excessive tears
  • Rubbing the eyes
  • Rubbing the face

Any of the above symptoms can indicate that a pet is suffering from eye issues, and these issues can be as minor as dry eyes or as major as glaucoma or cataracts. Furthermore, while some eye issues can be the result of genetics, others can result from serious diseases, and the veterinary ophthalmologist will be able to determine which is the case.

Once they have diagnosed the condition, a veterinary ophthalmologist can prescribe the appropriate treatment. This may include eye drops and antibiotics for less serious issues, or more thorough treatment and even surgery for more extensive issues. When discussing your pet’s eye issues, you should ask the ophthalmologist important questions, such as:

  • Is this condition degenerative?
  • Is there a cure for this condition?
  • Is this condition the result of some other issue?
  • What are the treatment options?
  • What is the success rate of the various treatment options?
  • Can the condition return in the future?

For more information about veterinary ophthalmology, contact us today.