January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, and it’s not just humans that can suffer from the serious eye disease. Two percent of dogs in North America are diagnosed with glaucoma, with some breeds, like cocker spaniels and basset hounds, going up to six percent (it’s less prevalent in our feline friends). Left untreated, glaucoma leads to blindness. Here’s what to look for when it comes to warning signs in your furry friends.
Enlarged pupils that don’t constrict in bright light
Blood vessels in the eyes might also be inflamed and look bloodshot—this is sometimes mistaken for conjunctivitis or an eye allergy. If the inflammation and redness is accompanied by any other signs of glaucoma, get your pet in for a checkup.
Decreased blood flow to the retina and pressure on the optic nerve can cause impaired vision and then blindness—but it can be hard to tell whether your pet is losing their sight. Look for signs like sudden clumsiness, walking with extra caution, reluctance to move, bumping into objects, and difficulty finding water dishes and food bowls.
Healthy eyes produce a fluid that nourishes eye tissue and maintains the shape of the eyeball. In glaucoma, drainage of that fluid is blocked, and the fluid builds up behind the eye, causing bulging.
Teariness & squinting
If your pet is squinting or their eyes are teary, it may be a sign of pain and discomfort. Your four-legged friend may also start pawing or rubbing at the eye.
A milky appearance in the eye might be caused by fluid accumulation within the tissue.
Don’t hesitate to get your pet to the vet if you suspect they might be suffering from glaucoma—40 percent of dogs with glaucoma become blind in the affected eye within the first year of onset (and often even sooner), so it’s important to act fast.