EYE HEALTH – CORNEAL ULCERS
Ulcers usually occur due to trauma to the surface of the eye, whether that be from an injury caused by eyelashes or a foreign body or by an infection. Ulcers often occur in stages starting as shallow indents progressing to deeper, more obvious indentations.
Symptoms include inflammation of the eye, squinting, excessive weeping/watering, the eye having a cloudy appearance and scratching/pawing at the face.
Some dog breeds are at increased risk of ulcers including Bulldogs, Pugs, Boxers, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels due to their pronounced eyes and being more at risk of dry eye. However, any breed and species can develop ulcers including cats, guinea pigs and rabbits!
Ulcers are diagnosed using a special dye called fluorescein which turns the eye green as it collects in the indentation making the ulcer more apparent. This helps the vet assess what stage the ulcer is at as well as how big it is and where on the eye it is.
Treatment is often dependent on the cause however, most pets will go home with antibiotic eyedrops paired with a buster collar to prevent further damage, in some cases antibiotics and pain relief may also be given. Some ulcers take a long time to heal or may not heal at all requiring surgical intervention called debridement. This is usually performed using a diamond burr which debrides and removes the rough edges of the ulcer allowing new epithelial growth, promoting healing.