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Eye Care

July 30, 2014

As pet owners we often fall victim to those "puppy dog eyes", Fido pleading for more pats and Puss pushing for more sardines. How often do we really look at their eyes though? Proper eye care is important throughout your pets life, as is recognising when something may not be quite right.

DAY TO DAY CARE

Preventing build up of dirt and trimming of fur where necessary around the eyes, not only helps your pet to see better but also helps stop foreign objects and particles from getting stuck in the eye, which can often lead to inflammation or excessive watering of the eyes. Keeping the skin around the eyes clean and healthy, benefits your pets skin, health and happiness. For certain breeds daily cleaning of the skin around the eye is necessary, this is typical of pets with folds of skin around the eyes, athletic breeds that are exposed to the dirt, sun and surf a lot, as well as pets with hereditary problems. The latter is often presented with staining around the eyes or excessive or constant weeping, this is usually caused by a malformation of the tear ducts which blocks the normal flow of tears. This condition is often referred to as Epiphora and while the impact on your pets day to day life is minimal, regular cleaning is advised.

CLEANING THE EYES

Cleaning your pets eye is a relatively simple process and need not be traumatic for you or your pet.

1. Settle your pet comfortably either directly in front of you or on your lap, give them a pat around the ears and head so they don't become anxious or concerned.

2. For this next step most pets will happily sit still for you so long as you are gentle, others may need a sturdier hand placed under the chin to keep their head still. For cats an extra set of hand may help.

3. Use a cotton ball or soft tissue moistened with warm water to gently wipe the area around the eye, removing any built up discharge as you go.

COMMON EYE CONDITIONS

CORNEAL ULCERATION

This condition can occur when the surface of the cornea is scratched or damaged, either by a foreign object, inadequate tear production, a fight or more seriously a bacterial or viral infection.It can be a very painful condition that will often cause your pet to 'squint'. The use of a Fluorescein stain is used to determine the presence of corneal ulcers.

CATARACTS AND GLAUCOMA

Cataracts, which cloud the lens inside the eye, are most commonly seen in elderly pets but are often present in diabetic pets too. Cataracts are a very common cause of blindness, and if it's even possible, surgery is the only treatment. In certain breeds of dogs it is a hereditary condition, so for this reason regular health checks are a good idea, especially for dogs wishing to be bred from. Glaucoma stems from too much pressure being exerted upon the eye's interior as a result of a decrease in the amount of fluid draining from it, ocular pressure is used to detect glaucoma.

CONJUNCTIVITIS

Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the membrane that covers both the inner lining of the eye as well as the white of the eye. It is a condition often caused by bacterial, fungal or viral infections, allergies, a simple irritation or inadequate tear production. Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (Dry Eye) is the term given to this occurrence, and simply means that the tear glands are not providing the eyes with enough tears.This condition is most commonly caused by the destruction of the lacrimal gland by cells of the immune system, it can also be caused by viral diseases,drug reactions, allergies or injuries. Certain breeds are predisposed to this condition, which if chronic can cause loss of vision, a Schirmer Tear Test is used to determine the level of tear production. Recurrent or chronic instances of conjunctivitis in cats can be the result of herpes viral infections, which sadly means the problem is likely to present itself again and again throughout your cats life. Good news there is simple treatments available and the problem can be easily treated.

RECOGNISING THE SIGNS

A healthy pet's eyes will be clear and bright, free from dirt, discharge and inflammation. Any of the following symptoms may mean that your pet has or is developing an eye problem and should be checked by your vet.

  • Red or inflamed inner eyelids/eyes
  • Foreign matter clinging to the surface or inner corners of the eyes
  • A cloudy or dull appearance of the eye's surface
  • The 'third eyelid' coming across the eye
  • Out of the ordinary or excessive tearing or unusual discharge
  • Tear-stained fur around the eyes
ADMINISTERING THE TREATMENT

EYE DROPS

1. First clean the eye by using the process explained earlier, making sure to remove any discharge.

2. Make sure your pet is in a comfortable secure position, either on your lap, on a table at a desirable height, or sitting in front of you. A second set of hands may be beneficial to help in holding your pet still.

3. Use one hand to hold the bottle, and place your other hand under the animals jaw to support the head.

4. Tilt the head back with your bottom hand, using your thumb to pull the bottom lid down and using your free fingers from your upper hand to pull the top eyelid up. Demonstrated in the image below

5. Lower the bottle down so it's close to the eye but NOT touching the eye's surface, and squeeze to administer the necessary amount

6. Release the head, you pet will naturally blink and this will spread the medication over the eye's surface.

EYE OINTMENT

1. Again clean the eye by using the process explained earlier, making sure to remove any discharge

2. Your pet should be in a comfortable secure position, either on your lap, on a table at a desirable height, or sitting in front of you.

3. Use one hand to hold under the animals jaw to support the head, the fingers of this hand will pull the upper eyelid. Use your other hand to hold the ointment, steadying your hand against your pets head, you can use the spare fingers to pull the lower lid down. Demonstrated in Image 1

4. Gently pull back the upper and lower eyelids

5. Holding the tube almost directly parallel to the eyelid (so if your pet moves you won't poke them in the eye) gently squeeze a line of ointment along your pets lower lid. Demonstrated in Image 2

6. A light massage of the upper and lower lids bringing them together will help spread the medication, you may now release the head and let your pet blink.

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