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Glaucoma is high pressure inside the eye of your pet. This develops when something stops the natural fluids in the eye from draining out, causing a buildup. Glaucoma can be very painful for your pet, and if left untreated can cause blindness.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is abnormally high pressure inside the eye of your pet. It is usually caused by a buildup of fluid in the eye due to a fault in its drainage system. There are two types of Glaucoma in pets, Primary and Secondary

What Causes Glaucoma?

Glaucoma can be either a hereditary condition where certain breeds of cats and dogs are predisposed (Primary Glaucoma), or can occur as a result of other eye conditions (Secondary Glaucoma).

Primary Glaucoma

Primary Glaucoma is usually hereditary, rare, and some breeds of cats and dogs tend to be predisposed to the condition. It will often start in one eye before progressing to the other. Left untreated, the pressure in the eye will likely lead to partial or complete vision loss.

Primary Glaucoma usually presents around middle age, and is particularly common in cat and dog breeds such as:

  • English and American Cocker Spaniel
  • English and Welsh Springer Spaniel
  • Siberian Husky
  • Spanish Water Dog
  • Labradors and Golden Retriever
  • Great Dane
  • Chow Chow
  • Boston Terrier
  • Jananese Shiba Inu
  • Siamese Cat
  • Burmese Cat

Secondary Glaucoma

Secondary Glaucoma occurs when another ocular condition is the cause of Glaucoma. Conditions that may cause Secondary Glaucoma include:

What are the Signs of Glaucoma?

The symptoms of Glaucoma in cats and dogs can affect one or both eyes, and depending on the severity of the case and its cause, can develop gradually or very suddenly. Signs of Glaucoma in cats and dogs can include:

Severe Eye Pain

This may present as increased squinting, avoidance of bright lights, and rubbing their face more often.

Red, Bloodshot, or Cloudy Eyes

These signs will develop over time but are a good indicator that something is wrong. Keep an eye on your pet’s eyes, particularly if they are a predisposed breed.

Partial or Complete Blindness

If Glaucoma goes unnoticed and untreated, it is likely that your pet will develop some degree of partial or complete blindness.

Wide or Uneven Pupils

Consistently wide or uneven pupils that don’t respond to light may be a sign of Glaucoma.

Bulging Eyes

Over time, your pets eye(s) may progressively enlarge. One eye may look larger than the other.


Glaucoma may cause your pet to become depressed, especially if they have vision loss, resulting in lethargy, and a lack of appetite or an unwillingness to eat.

How do we Diagnose Glaucoma?

An instrument called a tonometer will be used if your vet suspects that your pet has Glaucoma. A special probe is bounced off the surface of the eye to measure the pressure inside. This procedure is painless and can even be performed where deep ulcers are present. Normal pressure is around 10-25mmHg.

If your vet suspects that Glaucoma was caused by another eye condition, you may be referred to us to check your pet’s general ocular health.

What is the Treatment for Glaucoma?

Treatment for Glaucoma in cats and dogs will depend on the severity of the case, and its cause. However, the aim of treatment is to control the pressure in the eye, alleviate pain, and prevent blindness. This is usually done by administering an intense course of topical medication that aims to reduce the production of fluid inside the eye, and improve the drainage of fluid.

In cases that don’t respond well to this treatment, surgery (Glaucoma Laser Surgery) may be considered.

If Glaucoma is currently only present in one eye, your vet will also want to assess the other eye as soon as possible and take preventive measures.

When to Call the Vets

If your pet has one or more of the above symptoms, it is important to have them checked out by Knutsford Vets as soon as possible. Glaucoma is very painful, and left untreated can cause blindness.

Your pet will be in safe hands at Knutsford Vets with experienced ophthalmologist, Dr Paul Adams. Dr Adams has years of experience treating a wide range of pet eye conditions, and is the perfect partner to look after your pet’s ocular health. Our services are available for registered clients, new clients and as a referral or second opinion.

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