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Glaucoma is defined as an increase in pressure in the eye with a loss of vision. The signs of glaucoma include: redness, cloudy eye, tearing, loss of vision, an enlarged eyeball, lethargy, and loss of appetite. The disease is quite painful in most cases, especially when the eye pressure is very elevated. Human patients complain of severe headache or migraines.
The fluid that fills the eye (aqueous humour) is made in the ciliary body, at the base of the iris. This fluid then travels through the pupil to fill the anterior chamber, and exits out through the drainage angle, where the iris meets the cornea. When the fluid cannot properly drain from the eye, the pressure in the eye is increased. Some patients have primary glaucoma where there is no concurrent disease. Primary glaucomas are usually breed-related. Breeds predisposed to inherited glaucoma include: Cocker Spaniels, Bassett Hounds, Beagles, Chinese Shar Pei, Chow Chows and Jack (Parsons) Russell Terriers. Secondary causes of glaucoma include: inflammation, trauma, tumors and Luxated lens. All of these factors can obstruct the drainage of fluid from the eye.
Acute glaucoma is an ophthalmic emergency and must be treated immediately. If the pressure remains elevated for even a few hours, permanent vision loss occurs. The disease is difficult to treat but several options are available depending on whether the patient still has vision, overall health of the patient, financial considerations, etc.
Medical treatment for glaucoma may include a combination of oral and topical medications. Surgical interventions that may be recommended involve lasering or cryosurgery of the ciliary body and/or placement of drainage devices. Primary glaucoma is manageable, at best. Consistent monitoring by an ophthalmologist and client compliance are a must!
Permanent resolution of glaucoma is recommended for blind or painful eyes. Options include enucleation (removal of the eye), intra-scleral prosthesis (replacing the contents of the eye with silicone) or ciliary body ablation. There are pros and cons to each of these treatments, and these variables are discussed during the ophthalmic examination.