Glaucoma Treatment for Dogs & Cats
Glaucoma in dogs or cats is a serious and frustrating disease process that often results not only in blindness, but also ocular discomfort that can lead to suffering in your pet.
Fortunately, there are a variety of treatment options to manage glaucoma in cats and dogs and relieve discomfort. At Armour Veterinary Ophthalmology, we use cutting edge technology and state of the art equipment to provide your pet with the best possible outcome.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a collection of disease processes affecting both dogs and cats, which often results in blindness. The disease is associated with an elevation in intraocular pressure which results from an abnormal drainage of aqueous humor, a fluid that is formed within the eye. When there is a buildup of this fluid, neurodegeneration of the retina and optic nerve results in vision loss.
A predisposition for primary glaucoma has been identified in many dog breeds, including the American Cocker Spaniel, Basset Hound and Shiba inu. Dogs with primary glaucoma are born with an abnormal intraocular drainage angle between the cornea and the iris. Gonioscopy (evaluation of the drainage angle with a contact lens) can identify pectinate ligament dysplasia and narrowing of the iridocorneal angle (referred to as goniodysgenesis).
Intraocular inflammation, trauma or a retinal detachment can all cause secondary glaucoma in dogs or cats. Addressing the initial problem can resolve the glaucoma. However, sometimes there is permanent intraocular nerve damage and vision loss.
Glaucoma Treatment for Dogs & Cats
Most medications are topical eye drops that aim to decrease the amount of aqueous humor created, target the drainage angle or address intraocular inflammation. Medications may help to maintain the intraocular pressure in a normal range (<25mmHg) but unfortunately a tolerance is often built up over time and intraocular pressure can elevate even with diligent application of eye drops.
Surgical Options to Preserve Your Pet’s Vision
Surgeries to preserve your dog or cat’s vision may be a possibility based on the level of intraocular inflammation and current status of neurodegeneration.
- Endocyclophotocoagulation is a diode endolaser that targets the pigmented ciliary body processes and decreases aqueous humor production. It often requires concurrent lens replacement or removal (cataract surgery).
- Goniovalve or goniotube procedures may be elected to shunt fluid from inside the eye to the surrounding structures.
- Transscleral photocoagulation is a procedure where the diode laser targets the ciliary body processes from outside the globe. This procedure may be indicated in cases that are not candidates for endolaser.
- Other procedures may be discussed based on the presentation of glaucoma in your pet.
Surgical Options Following Vision Loss
Elevated intraocular pressure may feel like a terrible headache and cause your pet to suffer. Although pain medications may temporarily relieve some of the distress, most patients benefit from surgery to increase comfort.
- Enucleation – removal of the eye. This procedure is commonly performed and can result in almost immediate pain relief. The eye and supporting structures are removed and the eyelids are closed. Possible complications include suture dehiscence and secondary infection. An enucleation will permanently address your pets’ glaucoma.
- Intrascleral Prosthesis – placement of a round prosthetic within the cornea and sclera. This procedure results in a relatively normal-appearing eye that does not have pressure-related pain.
- Ciliary Body Ablation – In high risk patients who would not tolerate general anesthesia well, an injection of medications can sometimes decrease the intraocular pressure (65-84% success rate). There is a possibility that another procedure may still have to be performed to successfully decrease the intraocular pressure long term.
Our practice is located inside the Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington D.C., conveniently located near Maryland and northern Virginia.
Need more information about managing glaucoma for your pet? Want a second opinion about treatment options? The caring team at Armour Veterinary Ophthalmology is here for you!
Located inside the Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington D.C. we offer a variety of treatment options to manage your pet’s glaucoma and relieve pain.