Glaucoma in Dogs

Glaucoma in Dogs

How Does Glaucoma Affect Dogs?

When there is pressure on the eye, this causes inadequate fluid drainage, which results in glaucoma. If this condition worsens, permanent damage will occur in the optic nerve, which will result in blindness.

Regardless of surgical or medical treatment, approximately 40 percent of dogs who are affected by glaucoma will become blind in their infected eye within the first year. Glaucoma is often seen in these canine breeds:

• Chow chows
• Cocker Spaniels
• Poodles
• Samoyeds
• Siberians

What Causes Glaucoma in Dogs?

When the usual outflow of eye fluid is impaired, this causes high pressure in the eye. This is due to either a primary eye disease, like the improper development of the eye’s filtration angles, or secondary to other eye diseases including eye tumors, inflammation of the eye tissues, slipping of the lens in the eye or blood collection in the front of the eye such as from an injury. Secondary glaucoma is seen more often than primary glaucoma.

What Are the Symptoms of Glaucoma in Dogs?

There are two types of glaucoma for dogs: primary and secondary. When there is a sudden primary disease, this is caused by the eye’s inability to drain through the filtration angles of the eye. These symptoms include:

• Front of the eye has a cloudy appearance
• Excessive eye blinking
• Vision loss
• Receding eyeball, usually back into the head
• High pressure within the eye
• Red blood vessels in the eye whites
• Dilated pupil
• Pupils do not respond to light

For advanced, long-term disease, symptoms include:

• Clear vision loss
• Enlargement of the eyeball
• Advanced degeneration within the eye

If a canine has secondary glaucoma, or glaucoma from a secondary eye infection, these symptoms include:

• High pressure within the eye
• Red blood vessels in the eye whites
• Front of the eye has a cloudy appearance
• Inflammatory debris in the front of the eye
• Pupil constriction
• The iris may stick to the cornea or the lens
• The edge of the iris circularly sticks to the lens

How is Glaucoma Diagnosed in Dogs?

To diagnose glaucoma, your veterinarian will need a thorough history of your dog’s health, symptoms and likely incidents that may have caused this issue. During the physical exam, the doctor will test your dog’s eye pressure, and, if the disease occurred suddenly, you will be referred to a veterinary ophthalmologist for a detailed exam of both eyes.

How is Glaucoma Treated?

Several drugs will be prescribed to your dog in order to lower the pressure within their eye and get it to the normal range in order to salvage their vision. In some cases, a canine will have a long-term condition that has been unobserved or has been misdiagnosed before the obvious glaucoma symptoms have been present. If this is the case, the optical nerve has been damaged beyond repair and surgery may be necessary.

Depending on the exact nature of glaucoma, different treatments may be utilized. Eye fluid may be drained and fluid producing cells may be altered to stop buildup within the eye—this process is called cyclocryotherapy, and it uses cold temperatures to kill intraocular fluid-causing cells. If this is found early in the treatment, this may slow down or stop further progression, however, most often in long-term cases the eye will have to be removed.

If this condition has been detected early and can be managed, regular vet visits will be necessary to assess your dog’s eye pressure and to monitor for drug interactions to make essential adjustments.


If your pet is experiencing any of the above symptoms or you have further questions about this condition, please contact us at 907-479-0001.