Glaucoma and Eye Loss

Often glaucoma leads to eye loss, but not always.

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Q. My 9-year-old Samoyed was diagnosed with glaucoma, and she is scheduled to have one eye removed. My vet has started her on pilocarpine hydrochloride ophthalmic solution and timolol maleate. Will these help to save her vision and her eye? Should I take her to a pricey veterinary eye specialist? She has such big beautiful brown eyes. I can’t bear the thought of having her lose an eye.

A. Glaucoma is a devastating disease that will steal the vision in both of your dog’s eyes if you aren’t careful. Because she has gotten glaucoma in one eye, she is probably at risk for getting in her other eye as well. Although the exact cause of glaucoma is not known, there is probably a genetic component.
 
Glaucoma refers to the disease where the pressure within the globe of the eye increases so much that your dog eventually goes blind. It is caused by either the overproduction of fluid in the eye, or a blockage in the drainage of fluid out of the eye.
 
Devices known as tononmeters can be used to measure the pressure within the globe of the eye and diagnose glaucoma. Unfortunately, glaucoma is a complicated disease to treat, and often ends up with a loss of vision and surgery to remove the eye. Medical treatment can be successful in preventing glaucoma in the other eye, but the eye must be monitored carefully and regularly.
 
Because general practitioner veterinarians are so busy, it may be best to consult with a veterinary ophthalmologist to medicate and monitor your dog’s good eye. That will give you the absolute best chance for maintaining vision in that eye. The medications you mentioned are beneficial, but there are others that your regular veterinarian may not be familiar with. If there is a veterinary ophthalmologist anywhere near where you live, you should consider consulting with him or her, pricey or not. Otherwise, those big beautiful brown eyes may be gone forever.

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