Eye disorders are common in dogs. This is true particularly for older dogs, causing them to no longer be able to see as clearly as they once did. While it’s true that dogs rely more on their sense of smell than sight, eye disorders, if left untreated, can lead to serious health complications for your pooch. And with the frail condition that occurs as dogs age it’s especially important to watch the health of their eyes.
Common eye disorders in older dogs:
1. Corneal ulcer
It doesn’t take much for a corneal ulcer to form. A cat scratch or a small injury on the cornea can lead to ulceration. It’s tough to detect corneal ulcers, but watch out for “squinting” episodes in your dog. If you spot this, have your dog checked by the vet right away.
2. Dry eye
Medically known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), dry eye is a condition resulting from a decreased amount of tear production in your dog’s eye(s). Tears help lubricate the cornea, and a dramatic decrease in production leaves the cornea dry, making it prone to ulcerations. Like most eye disorders in older dogs, dry eye can lead to blindness if left unattended.
Uveitis is a condition wherein the chambers of the eye become inflamed. The inflammation can be either anterior or posterior, and this gives the affected eye a cloudy, even bluish, appearance. Systemic illnesses and cataracts can cause uveitis, as proteins escape from the affected lens and draw inflammatory cells to the eye chambers.
4. Retinal degeneration
Retinal degeneration is a condition affecting the older canine population. In this disease, the retina—the part of the eye responsible for vision—deteriorates over time, leading to complete vision loss. As of this writing, there is no known procedure that can cure or delay retinal degeneration.
Eye disorders in older dogs cannot be avoided completely, especially for breeds who are genetically predisposed to eye problems. However, regular eye care helps protect your dog’s eyes from injury and disease, keeping his peepers healthier in the long run. Here’s how:
Groom your old dog regularly, paying special attention to his eyes and the area surrounding them.
Keep your dog inside the car during trips. The wind and debris could injure his eyes.
Keep the hair around your dog’s eyes short and well trimmed to prevent rubbing against his eyeball.
Take note of unusual eye-related behavior in your old dog. These include squinting, pawing, and blinking.
Treatment for eye disorders in older dogs are best left to the veterinarian. Never attempt to treat your old dog’s eyes without approval from the vet. For most eye diseases, treatment includes eye creams and ointments. When these methods don’t work, surgery is presented as the last option.