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Dear Daisy Dog

Sarah, our 9-year-old cocker spaniel, is blind in her left eye because of glaucoma. Is there some way to prevent the same thing from happening with her right eye?

Daisy Responds

Yes and no.

Glaucoma is increased intra-ocular pressure. Pressure within the eyeball increases when fluids inside the eye cannot drain normally.

Glaucoma can affect any dog (or cat), but it seems to strike spaniels (especially cockers), terriers, basset hounds and beagles most commonly, usually during middle age.
Early glaucoma has no outward symptoms, but when pressure inside the eye builds, internal eye damage starts. Eventually, as the pressure continues to increase, the eye becomes red. Affected dogs experience a great deal of pain and eventually become blind.

The only way to know whether intra-ocular pressure is increasing before vision is affected is to test the pressure. Your veterinarian has the proper equipment, and the test is quick and painless.

Sadly, glaucoma eventually affects both eyes in most dogs. Six to eight months after glaucoma is diagnosed in one eye, the second eye will be affected unless preventive medication is given. With this medication, glaucoma doesn’t appear in the second eye for about 31 months.

Therefore, most veterinarians recommend treating the unaffected eye to delay the onset of the pain and blindness associated with glaucoma. Eye drops and oral medications are available.

By the way, you humans develop glaucoma too, so talk with your eye care professional or family physician about periodic glaucoma testing.

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