September 24, 2023

If you see your pet displaying indications of distress, it could be brought on by pain or extreme discomfort. Typically, a change of behavior signals this. A cat or a dog may keep pawing its face or rubbing its head on furniture or carpet. When you see these odd activities, look out.

Be alert, and see if your pet is squinting or blinking more than usual. If there is a soreness, swelling, or yellowish/bloody ocular discharge, this can indicate a corneal ulcer. It is time to see the vet.

What is a corneal ulcer?

Before we can answer the question, we must first learn how the cornea is. The eye’s cornea is a thin transparent membrane on the front part of the eye. The cornea has three layers– the epithelium on the outside, the stroma in the middle, and the innermost layer called Descemet’s membrane.

When the epithelium is damaged, this is referred to as an abrasion or erosion. If the damage reaches the stroma, this is the condition that is called a corneal ulcer. This condition is excruciating, and prolonging it may cause more injury to the eye.

If the ulcer reaches the next layer, this may cause a more severe condition called a descemetocele. Should Descemet’s membrane rupture, the liquid inside the eye leaks. This causes the eye to collapse and may create irreversible damage. Before the eye reaches this level of damage, treatment should be done.

What are the reasons for corneal ulcers?

Most of the time, trauma is the factor. Skidding on rough ground or getting scratched during a fight may damage the cornea. In some cases, chemicals, unnatural hair growth, or dry eyes might be the cause. Bacterial or viral infections and parasites may likewise cause the problem. This is why dog and cat vaccinations are also important.

However, for some breeds, epithelial dystrophy or weak corneas are genetic. Brachycephalic breeds of canines are prone to it due to the structure of their eyes. Pets with endocrine disorders might likewise be victims.

What kind of treatment is needed?

If you suspect damage to the cornea, check a vet or visit their website to see if they have ophthalmology services for pets. To verify if the case is a corneal ulcer, a test using a fluorescein stain is performed. An orange-colored stain is put on the cornea and turns green when it adheres to the ulcers.

Shallow abrasions can be treated with medication. Ophthalmic antibiotic eye drops and ointments can quicken the recovery process however need to be applied frequently.

Surgery is needed for severe corneal ulcers that do not respond to medication or if a descemetocele has actually formed. Conjunctival tissue is transposed over the impacted ulcer. Then the vet surgeon might suture the third eyelid to shield the eye. After the advised healing time, the pet must be returned to the veterinarian to ensure that the ulcer has healed.

Is surgical treatment always effective?

Normal healing is not always attained after surgical treatment. Sometimes, dead or dying cells build up around the ulcer. This is described as indolent corneal ulcers and is more typical in older pets. To fix this problem, surgical extraction of these cells is essential.

A surgery called keratectomy is carried out by putting the animal under general anesthesia. The cat and dog surgeon makes tiny grooves on the stroma using a tool called a diamond burr. This procedure encourages the abnormal cells to self-heal, and the perforation allows new epithelial cells to attach.

The Final Note

If ever you observe your cat or dog displaying signs, do not hesitate to get it looked at by the vet. Always follow the vet’s recommendations in such scenarios since corneal ulcers are always progressive and aggressive. Quick action can save your pet’s eye.