Serious eye inflammation in dogs
[From Tufts March 2010 Issue]
My 6-year-old Australian Shepherd, Candy, who was born deaf, was recently diagnosed with uveitis. She is on steroid and atropine drops and pain medication. Can you please discuss the outcome for treatment?
Uveitis means inflammation inside the eye, causing pain, redness and cloudiness of the normally clear cornea. Uveitis must be carefully distinguished from similar diseases, such as glaucoma (increased pressure inside the eye), conjunctivitis (redness of the lining of the lids), keratitis (infection of the front of the eye) and retrobulbar abscess (infection of the tissues behind the eye).
True uveitis can have many different causes. Bacterial infection is actually uncommon, but infections from organisms like toxoplasmosis, tick-borne diseases and fungi may occur. Lupus-like diseases can also be associated with uveitis. Cancer can even appear with uveitis. Inflammation of unknown cause is diagnosed after other tests fail to reveal an underlying cause. Despite extensive medical work-ups, more than 50 percent of cases of uveitis in the dog are of uncertain cause.
Treatment with eye drops is essential, along with additional therapy for an underlying disease if present. Unless the underlying cause can be identified, weeks to months of treatment are often necessary, and some dogs require medication indefinitely.
Consultation with a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist may be helpful. He or she has extra training in the field and can work with your veterinarian.
Michael Stone, DVM