I want to start by stressing that if you have any concerns about your dog’s eyes based on look, reaction and/or signs of discomfort you should see a veterinarian right away and one that has experience with eyes.
What is Glaucoma?
Pressure placed on the eye, causing inadequate fluid drainage in the eye. So many people think their dog just has cataracts when it could be glaucoma which is painful unlike cataracts. You cannot know for sure unless tested.
Is it painful?
Glaucoma in pets is much more painful than glaucoma in humans. Imagine walking around with a severe migraine 24/7 and still having to do daily functions such as stairs, leaning over to eat and drink, chewing a bone, following commands, hearing loud voices, etc.
How is it tested?
You cannot just look at the eye and diagnosis glaucoma. It requires a tool called a tonometer which not all vets have. It is taped against the surface of the eye reporting back a digital pressure count.
Is there treatment?
Glaucoma can be “controlled” with eye drops which are applied multiple times daily. Sometimes oral pain medication is added due to the severity of the pain. Surgery can be an option but unfortunately many pets do not qualify for the surgery and not many veterinarians perform the surgery.
Unfortunately, most cases will result in the dog eventually going completely blind within a few years even on medication. It is important that you have your vet check the pressures on a regular basis to ensure the medication is still working.
Medications are prescription only (not found over the counter). Long-term medical therapy may involve drugs such as carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (e.g., dorzolamide 2%, brand names Trusopt and Cosopt) or beta-adrenergic blocking agents (e.g., 0.5% timolol, brand names Timoptic and Betimol).
If you opt out of medication or medication stops working removal of the eye is the most humane thing to offer your pet. Doing nothing is just plan cruelty.
Many people and some vets do not like to remove eyes. It is a practice that does not require a board- certified surgeon to perform. At the end of the day if the organ is not functional (in this case does not allow vision/blind) why invest the money into drops and office visit, stress of daily drops, and potential onset of pain when pressures are not controlled into something that offers nothing to the dog.
A study has found that CBD appears to increase pressure inside the eye, suggesting the use of the substance in the treatment of glaucoma may actually worsen the condition.
Symptoms of glaucoma include a dilated eye that doesn't respond to bright light; a red eye, a swollen eye; a bluish tint or haze to the eye; and pawing or rubbing at the eye. If you notice any of these signs in your dog, seek immediate veterinary care.