Vision, eye, eyesight, test, protect, squinting, rubbing, swollen, red, cloudy cornea, cataracts, glaucoma, blindness, dry, changes, sight
Interestingly, of all the amazing senses our pets have, their eyesight is probably their worst. They have an unbelievable sense of smell-about 40 times better than ours, a keen sense of hearing that puts ours to shame, a discerning sense of taste, and, except for some of the sight hounds, fairly lousy eyesight! What often helps them manipulate so well, is their familiarity with their surroundings, so much so that if or when their eyesight starts to fail, it is often masked by this awareness.
In fact, if you suspect your pet's eyesight failing, a good way to test would be to bring your pet to an unfamiliar area, or set up an obstacle course and see how well he or she can manipulate the course.
How can you best protect your pet's eyesight? First know what`s normal. The eyes should be the same size. The corneas, the clear tissue that forms the front of the eyeball, should be bright and shiny. The pupils are of equal diameter. The sclera, also known as the whites of the eye, should be just that, white with some scant blood vessels visible. Healthy eyes are also free of excessive discharge.
Signs of an unhealthy eye might be squinting, rubbing at the eyes, swollen, red areas around them, cloudy corneas or even a hesitancy to open the mouth.
As we age, the lens, that portion of the eye that sharpens the image we see, becomes less flexible and our vision blurs. That's why so many older adults need to wear cheater glasses to read the morning paper. This same phenomena happens to pets. You may notice a graying of the lens. A mild, equal discoloration of both lenses should not be confused with cataracts. Cataracts typically form in one eye at a time. In the early stages, a cataract appears as a bright, white spider web in the lens. If left untreated, cataracts can lead to blindness. There are surgical procedures that can safely remove the diseased lens and restore vision.
What other eye issues affect senior pets? Dry eye, glaucoma and blindness due to hypertension, high blood pressure, are three of the most common problems. These conditions require specialized testing by your veterinarian and prompt treatment.
Vision is precious. I stress to my clients that if they notice any eye changes in their pets to make an appointment to see me as soon as possible. It may not be an ocular emergency but I prefer to be extra cautious with eyesight.
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