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Hyphema in Dogs

By: Dr. Noelle McNabb

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Diagnosis

Diagnostic tests may include one or more of the following:

  • Complete medical history and physical examination
  • Complete ophthalmic examination. This should include pupillary light reflex testing, Schirmer tear tests, staining of the cornea with fluorescein, tonometry (measurement of pressure within the eye), and examination of the front and back chambers of the eye under magnification
  • Complete blood count (CBC), including a platelet count
  • Serum biochemistry tests to look for involvement of other organs
  • Possibly a urinalysis
  • Specialized blood tests to evaluate the blood's ability to clot
  • Blood pressure testing
  • Specialized serum tests to detect the presence of certain infections or cancerous processes
  • Possible X-rays if there are signs of other organ involvement

    Treatment

    Treatment of the eye is often initiated while a diagnostic work-up is underway and may include:

  • Topical corticosteroids, in the form of eye drops or ointments, are used to reduce inflammation within the anterior chamber.

  • Topical atropine (1%), in the form of eye drops or ointments, is often indicated to dilate the pupil. Dilation of the pupil helps to relieve pain and to minimize adhesions between the iris and the lens.

  • Oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or carprofen, are not initially used in most dogs with hyphema because these drugs may interfere with platelet function and increase the risk of further bleeding.

  • Treatment for glaucoma is indicated in eyes with elevated intraocular pressure. See the Client Education article on Glaucoma.

    Home Care

    Restrict your dog's activity and reduce the risk of further bleeding by confining your dog to a small room or crate until the cause of the hyphema is determined and the treatment is well underway.

    Because vision is impaired in some cases, do not allow your dog to go outdoors unattended or unsupervised.

    Do not administer human over-the-counter medications, such as Visine® or other ophthalmic products designed to reduce eye redness or irritation, because these products are ineffective for hyphema.

    Do not delay in bringing your pet to your veterinarian, because some causes of hyphema are not only vision threatening, but may also be also life-threatening.

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