Cornell University Hospital for Animals


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Companion Animal
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Ophthalmology: Medical Conditions

Common Ophthalmic Conditions
Corneal ulcers
The surface of the eye is commonly injured and usually heals spontaneously without treatment or predictably with supportive treatments. But these injuries may result in ulceration of the cornea, which may become infected by bacteria or become deep enough to threaten loss of the vision and the eye. Diagnosis is made by complete ophthalmic examination. Treatment involves topical antibiotic therapy supported by surgical intervention to stabilize deep ulcers or wounds. With early aggressive treatment, outlook for healing is generally good.

Glaucoma is increased pressure within the eye leading to permanent vision impairment. It is an inherited condition in many breeds of dogs and some cat breeds. It also  occurs secondary to other ocular disorders such as inflammation, tumors, trauma in all species.
The outlook for preserving vision in eyes with inherited glaucoma is guarded, with early diagnosis and treatment yielding the best results. Diagnosis is made by tonometry - a measurement of intraocular pressure. Management is both medical, using topical pressure control drugs made for people, and surgical, to reduce eye pressure and achieve comfort.

Cataracts develop as common inherited defects in dogs and some other species. Most diabetic dogs develop secondary blinding cataracts. There are no proven or approved medical treatments to prevent, retard, or reverse cataract development, but cataract surgery is performed successfully on animals. Dogs are the most common recipients and most get intraocular lens implants like people do, returning durable useful vision.

This inflammation within the eye is commonly associated with ocular and systemic infections, immune-mediated and metabolic disorders, and is a frequent cause of temporary and permanent vision loss. Treatment and prognosis depend upon stage at diagnosis, causes, and control of associated medical conditions. Diagnosis is based upon complete ophthalmic examination and treatments include topical and systemic anti-inflammatory medications.

Retinal degeneration
Retinal degeneration is common in dogs and some other species. It is often an inherited defect but also can result from exposure to certain drugs or chemicals. In dogs, it may occur suddenly for unknown reasons. It  is diagnosed  by complete ophthalmic examination . Few retinal degenerations are treatable; most eventually result is severe vision impairment and blindness.