Glaucoma Symptoms in Dogs and Cats

Glaucoma Symptoms in Dogs and Cats
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Glaucoma may be difficult to identify in it's early stages. Learn how to recognize the symptoms here.

As the intra-ocular pressure in your pet’s eye increases, signs of glaucoma will begin to show. In its earliest stage, there may not be a drastic change to your pet’s eye, but that will change. Displays of discomfort, dilated pupils, and enlarged blood vessels are all red flags in the earliest onset of glaucoma.

Pets who develop glaucoma can rapidly lose vision or become blind in a short amount of time. This can happen in a matter of days or even hours, so early intervention is key.

If you notice any of these common symptoms of glaucoma, contact your vet immediately:

  • Pain: The increased fluid in the eye creates pressure that is painful for your pet. Pets with glaucoma may show signs of discomfort, including sensitivity, less desire for contact around the head area, and rubbing or covering of their head.
  • Redness and inflammation: Irritation caused by glaucoma may cause the blood vessels in the whites of your pet’s eyes to become inflamed or look bloodshot. While inflammation could indicate any number of eye problems, chronic inflammation is also a cause of secondary glaucoma, so be sure to have this symptom checked out.
  • Dilated pupils: If your pet’s pupils dilate for extended periods in different lighting situations, it could be a sign of glaucoma. This symptom can also include pupils that seem enlarged. Check to see if the pupil constricts when light is shined on it directly. Note if your pet’s pupils do not react, or if they change very slowly.
  • Sensitivity to light: Natural and indoor light can cause pain to pets with glaucoma. Pets may avoid sunlight and rooms with strong lighting, squint with one eye, and show signs of discomfort.
  • Discharge: Excessive tearing or liquid discharge from the eye is a way in which the eye reacts to the intra-ocular pressure caused by glaucoma.
  • Vision Loss: Loss of vision can be difficult to notice in pets, especially since one eye can compensate for the other. But as glaucoma worsens, pets may lose some of their depth perception and bump into objects.
  • Behavior changes: You may notice a change to your pet’s habits and temperament due to the pain associated with the increased pressure in the eyes. Some pets may develop a loss of appetite, less desire for contact and play, depression, and lethargy.
  • Cloudiness in cornea: One sign of advanced glaucoma is a bluish, milky-colored sheen over the cornea of the eye. This is caused by the increased pressure in the eye, which stretches and tears the cornea. As the condition worsens, fluid enters into layers of the cornea, and the cloudiness increases.
  • Enlarged eye: Another advanced sign of glaucoma is a noticeably enlarged eye. Because the eye is producing more fluid than it drains, the increased pressure can cause the eye to bulge. If one of your pet’s eyes appears larger than the other, it could be due to glaucoma.

These symptoms may indicate other issues that are not glaucoma-related, such as cataracts. No matter what the issue, if your pet shows any of these signs, it is essential that you contact your veterinarian or a pet eye specialist without hesitation.

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.

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