While glaucoma is most commonly associated with humans, it is an eye condition that also affects dogs and cats because of similar underlying causes. Glaucoma occurs in pets when ocular pressure increases due to blocked fluid inside the structure of the eye. This increased pressure compresses the optic nerve, causing pain and eventually blindness.
Eye fluid, or aqueous humor, contains nutrients and oxygen needed by the eye’s internal structures. This fluid controls the normal size and shape of the eye because it enters, circulates, and leaves the eye at the same rate, maintaining a constant eye pressure. This constant pressure is known as intra-ocular pressure, or IOP.
Certain conditions cause the drainage angle to decrease the amount of fluid leaving the eye, causing an imbalance in the IOP that is not sustainable.
What causes the drainage of fluid in the eye to decrease in the first place? Pets are affected by two types of glaucoma: primary and secondary. Primary glaucoma is hereditary and affects otherwise healthy eyes. It is typically passed down in certain breeds, though any breed can develop primary glaucoma. Secondary glaucoma occurs when an outside injury or condition blocks fluid drainage. Learn more about why primary and secondary glaucoma develop in pets, and which breeds are most susceptible.
Early symptoms of glaucoma are often misdiagnosed as other eye issues. Both dogs and cats are susceptible to glaucoma, and should see a veterinarian or a veterinary optometrist when signs of glaucoma occur. Early signs of glaucoma such as behavioral changes may be observed in your pet due to the extreme pain caused by this disease. Pets are believed to have more painful cases of glaucoma than humans because the amount of pressure they endure is greater. See which symptoms to look out for in cases of primary and secondary glaucoma.
If glaucoma is left untreated, your pet will rapidly lose vision. Though there is no cure for glaucoma in pets, various treatments can slow down the condition’s process and help relieve chronic pain. Learn about the various medical and surgical therapies available.
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.