Glaucoma is a serious, painful, and potentially life-changing eye problem that can affect our pets. The medical definition of glaucoma is increased intraocular pressure, which means that the fluid inside of the eye has increased with no way to exit. (Imagine filling a balloon with water until it stretches and almost bursts.)
Initial recognition of glaucoma commonly requires emergency treatment to save vision. The patient would be hospitalized for pain control and be given diuretics (a medication that helps pull the extra fluid out of places it shouldn't be, in this case the eye). After getting the pressure inside the eye back into normal range, it is important to determine the cause. This can be discussed with your veterinarian, but the two main reasons for fluid to accumulate and pressure to rise are a blockage in the drainage tract or a drainage tract that is too small.
Signs of glaucoma include enlarged eye(s), cloudy red eye(s), pain, increased tearing, loss of interest in eating, and lethargy. (Humans report that glaucoma feels like a horrible migraine). It is important to recognize these symptoms because prolonged glaucoma or a sudden onset of very high pressure can cause damage to the vision centers in the eye, leading to complete vision loss. Luckily, there are treatments that we can do to try to prevent blindness and keep your pet out of pain.
For more information you can visit the website for the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, www.acvo.org ; click the link under Veterinarians and Public and then Veterinary Resources to find links to common eye problems.
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