What is glaucoma? When a patient has glaucoma, the pressure inside the eye (the intra-ocular pressure) is elevated. This happens due to reduced drainage of fluid out of the eye. The increased pressure can cause permanent vision loss.
What are the signs of glaucoma? There are many different signs of glaucoma, and patients may exhibit only one or several of them. These signs include rubbing the eye, squinting, redness around the eye or redness in the eye itself, dilated (wide) pupils, a color change to white on the cornea (the clear part of the eye), vision loss, and bulging of the eye.
How is glaucoma diagnosed? An initial diagnosis of glaucoma is made by having the intra-ocular pressures (IOP) measured. There are many devices available to do this, and Brix Veterinary Service uses the Tono-Pen. The eye is numbed with a drop of topical anesthesia. The Tono-Pen is then tapped lightly against the surface of the eye to get a pressure measurement. Most animals tolerate this extremely well - please see above for a picture of Dr. Rutherford's dog having her IOPs measured. Although multiple things can affect the IOP, a high reading usually indicates glaucoma. To make things more confusing, there is more than one kind of glaucoma! Further determining the type of glaucoma requires a visit to a veterinary ophthalmologist for specialized imaging.
Can glaucoma be treated? Yes, there are many methods of treatment available. These treatments range from topical eye medications to different types of surgery. The combination of treatments chosen depends on the individual case.
Can glaucoma be prevented? Not specifically. The majority of glaucoma cases come on very quickly and without any warning. A small number of glaucoma cases have some relationship to genetics in specific breeds. In these breeds, it is sometimes recommended to have intra-ocular pressure checked annually as these cases usually come on slowly and can sometimes be caught early in the disease. Some health conditions can predispose an animal to having glaucoma. In these cases it is important to be vigilant about checking IOPs regularly and monitoring closely for the signs of glaucoma.