Glaucoma in dogs and cats can be treated, but first it must be diagnosed. This can be done by veterinary ophthalmologists and veterinarians who have the tools to measure intraocular pressure (IOP). To test for glaucoma, the vet will use a tonometer to measure the IOP, and may also do a thorough eye exam. Eye specialists may also test for glaucoma with x-rays, ultrasonic imaging, or blood tests. Most of these tests are fairly non-invasive, and early diagnosis could buy your pet’s other eye time before it develops glaucoma with preemptive treatment.
Once a vet determines that your pet has glaucoma, a number of treatment options will be available. Glaucoma treatments are less successful in animals than humans, but they can give your pet pain relief and in some cases help delay vision loss.
While the eye still has vision, there are a number of medical therapies available to prolong your pet’s vision and reduce pain from glaucoma. The drugs work to decrease fluid production in the eye, or to increase drainage of the aqueous humor. Glaucoma medications come in the form of drops, pills, and injections. When treating glaucoma with drugs, it is important to follow your vet’s instructions exactly, and not to discontinue treatment if your pet’s eye appears to be improving.
Surgical procedures do not cure glaucoma in pets, but they can slow down its progress and relieve pain. Surgical therapy options include:
- Laser surgery: Laser surgery is used to decrease fluid production in the eye. The process involves reducing the ciliary body behind the iris, where the aqueous humor is produced. Laser surgery can be used as a preventative method for primary glaucoma, when the second eye has not yet developed this condition.
- Cryosurgery: Cryosurgery is a freezing procedure that decreases intraocular fluid without cutting into the eye. During the procedure, cells that produce aqueous humor are destroyed to reduce the production of this fluid and create balance in its drainage.
When vision has already been lost, removal of the eye is an option. Eye removal, or enucleation, will provide pain relief to your pet, as the chronic pain associated with glaucoma will still exist even after blindness occurs. The eyelid of your pet can be sutured shut, and cosmetic prosthetic implants are also available.
Untreated glaucoma will be extremely painful to your pet, and will ultimately lead to a rapid ascent to blindness. Talk to your vet about treatment options, and be sure to follow through on them consistently.
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.