Glaucoma is an increased pressure inside the eye which is incompatible with the health of the eye. Glaucoma occurs when fluid withing the eye cannot exit causing the pressure to rise. It is a serious eye disease that can potentially result in total blindness. Breeds commonly affected include Afghan Hound, Cocker Spaniel, Beagle, Chow Chow, Basset Hound, Dalmatian, Shar-Pei, terriers and other breeds. Glaucoma usually is diagnosed in dogs between 4 and 10 years of age.

Types of Glaucoma

Primary glaucoma occurs without other eye diseases or injury. Females are reported to be more predisposed to primary glaucoma in such breeds as American Cocker Spaniel, Basset Hound, Cairn Terrier, Chow Chow, English Cocker Spaniel, Samoyed, and Siberian Husky. Male Australian Cattle dog and Saint Bernard are more frequently affected than female dogs.

Secondary glaucoma occurs with some other eye diseases such as inflammation, injury, or tumor, and is associated with cataract formation. Breeds predisposed to secondary glaucoma and cataracts include American Cocker Spaniel, Boston Terrier, Toy, Miniature and Standard Poodle, English Springer Spaniel, Bichon Frise, and Labrador Retriever. The other forms of secondary glaucoma occur less frequently, and include those cases with lens luxation or displacement and after cataract surgery.

Signs of glaucoma include red eye, cloudy eye, enlarged or swollen eye, pain, squinting, discharge from the eye, depression, loss of appetite, large pupil and trembling. If the disease is caught early, many dogs respond to medical and surgical treatment. However, dogs with primary glaucoma will lose their vision over time. Additionally, these dogs may develop glaucoma in the other eye. Yearly pressure measurements are recommended.

Treatment of acute glaucoma requires emergency treatment and is based on lowering pressure within the eye to a normal range. Medical treatment of glaucoma is first attempted. The medication is used to decrease intraocular fluid production and to increase drainage of the fluid from within the eye. This medical treatment can consist of intravenous medication, oral medication, and eye drops.

If medical treatment is not effective, then surgical treatment may be considered which may consist of procedures to decrease fluid production within the eye (laser surgery) or implantation of valves to remove fluid from the eye. Dogs with controlled glaucoma will need to have their pressure measured every 2-3 months, or as directed. Therapy is life long.

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