Eyes are the windows to the soul. As cliché as this may sound, it can be very true – not
only in humans but in our four legged friends as well. Those puppy or kitten eyes can give us a lot more information than we think, much more than just asking for a treat. Here is a simple “how to” guide as to what to look for.
By Dr. Monica DeVilbiss, DVM – Town Center Animal Hospital
ooking into their eyes. I know this sounds cheesy, but you are the first line in noticing small changes that could indicate a much bigger problem is lurking below. Masses, color changes, and clarity could indicate a much more serious problem that could be caught and possibly treated by your veterinarian. Squinting can indicate a scratch on the surface of the eye – which can need immediate medical attention. Color change of the white portion of the eye or enlargement of the vessels can indicate inflammation inside the eye, or systemic illness which should always be examined by your veterinarian. Also checking your pet’s vision can sometimes be performed at home as well, using a series of tests. Menace response is a test that is performed by making a sudden movement in the direction of the eye, which should elicit a blink. This test should be done carefully and slowly, as not to injure the eye, touch the face/whiskers, or make a gust a wind which could alter the results. The cotton ball test is another test which can be performed at home where a cotton ball is dropped into the visual field to assess vision. Other vision tests are available, but should either be performed by your veterinarian or direct instruction of your veterinarian for proper interpretation and performance of these tests. Annual wellness visits. These are one the most important steps to ensuring nothing is sneaking up on us or them, and making sure their health is intact. These visits can also include early screening tests for internal diseases that can change the appearance of your pet’s eyes. During these visits a complete blood count, chemistry, urinalysis, thyroid screening, blood pressure and possibly radiographs may be recommended by your veterinarian. Even though these tests aren’t directly
Las Vegas Pet Scene Magazine • January/February 2017
associated with the eye, they can sometimes explain why the appearance of your pets eyes are changing. Once the problem has been narrowed down to the actual eye itself, your veterinarian can recommend many different tests. Common baseline tests that can be recommended by your veterinarian include fluorescein eye staining, shirmer tear testing and tonometry. Fluorescein eye staining is a valuable tool in evaluating the surface of the eye, or the cornea. This test is commonly used to check for scratches or ulcers on the surface of the eye. Shirmer tear testing is used to evaluate tear production levels, which can be very important in diagnosing many conditions – most commonly dry eye. The test involves a specialized paper strip that is placed into the eye, and the tear production is measured over the course of a minute. Tonometry testing is performed to evaluate the pressures inside the eye. This tool is exceptionally valuable, and can screen for glaucoma and inflammation inside of the eye. Tonometry is a very helpful tool, however is commonly paired with one of the above mentioned tests, or even with further diagnostics to figure out the root of the problem. Don’t forget -many other tests are available, and there are even pet ophthalmologists!
All in all, eyes can be a pretty tricky subject, however monitoring your pet can be extremely helpful to your veterinarian. Remember to NEVER put anything in your pet’s eyes unless instructed by your veterinarian.