Posted By: Sarah - Vet

Jackson's eye causes concern

One morning back in August, Jackson’s owners noticed that all was not well with him. In spite of the fact that he was eating and fairly perky, he was blinking frequently and holding his eyes closed much of the time. They brought him straight in to us.

Now, some dogs can be understandably reluctant to have their eyes checked, particularly when they are sore, but Jackson was very patient. I examined his eyes closely. His pupils were unusually constricted, indicating that there was inflammation inside the eye. A special stain on the surface of the eye shows up any damage to the front surface of the cornea - an ulcer. Jackson did indeed have an ulcer on one eye running in a line across the surface of the eye and a tiny pinpoint ulcer on the other eye. An instrument called a tonometer is used to measure the pressure inside the eye, checking for glaucoma and this was normal. His tear production was measured using a special test which involves putting a small paper strip onto the eye. This was also normal.

Jackson was prescribed 2 types of eye drops - an antibiotic to prevent infection which could stop the ulcer healing and a drug to relax the constricted pupils. This ‘miosis’ can be a reaction to the damaged cornea, and if untreated results in pain, and possibly adhesions within the eye. He was also prescribed an oral anti-inflammatory pain killer.

Jackson came for a check up a week later. I was disappointed to see that although his pupils had relaxed and his eyes were more open, the ulcer had not started to heal. This happens in a small proportion of cases and is more likely in the so called ‘brachycephalic’ breeds as they tend to have a poorer supply of natural lubricant (the pre corneal tear film) at the front of the eye.

As his ulcer was non-healing, Jackson was admitted for a procedure to try and encourage recovery. This is called a ‘grid keratotomy’. It is a delicate operation performed under sedation and local anaesthetic. A sterile cotton bud is used to gently scrape the edges of the ulcer and then a fine hypodermic needle is drawn across the ulcerated cornea and into normal tissue in a grid pattern. This helps the repairing cornea stick down.

After the operation, Jackson still had to go home with eye drops as well as his painkillers. His owners had been initially worried about having to put drops in his eyes frequently, but they rose splendidly to the challenge, and Jackson was very good about it.

A week later, there was still no progress and I was worried that we may have to repeat the procedure, but, on the day he came back to be readmitted, the ulcer was a tiny bit smaller, so we all held our breath and carried on with his treatment regime.

I saw Jackson regularly after that, and have to admit had a bit of a soft spot for him because he always seemed pleased to come and see me and never grumbled when he was examined. The good news was that, ever so slowly and steadily that ulcer healed.

I was delighted when he came back for his final check to see this delightful little lad with 2 perfect eyes - a real tribute to all the hard work his devoted owners put into treating him. 

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