Cloudy Eye in Dogs

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Overview of Cloudy Eye in Dogs

A cloudy eye or increased opacity of the eye is associated with reduced transparency of either the cornea, the fluid media within the eye, or the lens. In dogs, this change may be described as a “film” covering the eye or as an increased cloudiness within eye. Cloudiness of the eye may or may not be associated with a reduction in vision.

The causes of a cloudy eye typically fall into one of the following categories:

  • Cloudiness of the cornea, which may occur with corneal infections, corneal scarring, infiltrative inflammatory diseases of the cornea, fatty infiltration or calcium deposition within the cornea, or corneal edema (fluid accumulation)
  • Cloudiness of the aqueous humor, which is the fluid that circulates within the front chamber of the eye. This may be due to the accumulation of white blood cells, protein, fatty lipids or blood.
  • Opacification or whitening of lens from cataract formation
  • Disorders of the vitreous body, which is a gelatinous fluid between the lens and retina. These may include congenital defects, hemorrhage or inflammation.
  • What to Watch For

  • Physical change in the appearance of one or both eyes
  • Possible decrease in vision with changes in behavior
  • Possible squinting. Some causes of a cloudy eye are painful; others are not
  • Possible discharge from the eye
  • Possible redness to the eye
  • Diagnosis of Cloudy Eye in Dogs

    Diagnostic tests are essential in determining the precise cause of the cloudy eye. Tests may include:

  • Complete medical history and physical examination
  • Complete ophthalmic examination including fluorescein staining of the cornea, Schirmer tear test, tonometry, slit-lamp biomicroscopy and indirect ophthalmoscopy.
  • Complete blood count (CBC) and serum tests

    Additional diagnostic tests may include:

  • Cytology, or microscopic examination of any inflammatory changes in the cornea
  • Bacterial culture of an infected cornea
  • Aspirate and analysis of any cloudy fluid from within the eye
  • Gonioscopy of the normal eye if glaucoma is suspected
  • Ultrasound examination of the eye if the retina cannot be examined
  • Treatment of Cloudy Eye in Dogs

    Successful treatment depends on obtaining an accurate diagnosis as to what tissue of the eye is cloudy and what is the underlying cause of the problem.

    Home Care

    Optimal treatment for your dog requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up examinations can be critical to your pet’s health. Also, do not delay in bringing your dog to the hospital for initial examination as some causes of a cloudy eye may result in a loss of vision within a very short period of time.

    In addition, do the following:

  • Observe the eye at least twice daily. Signs that may indicate a worsening condition include more obvious inflammation (redness), increased or altered discharge from the eye, pain (usually evident as squinting) or loss of vision.
  • If your dog’s vision is compromised, minimize stress and risk of injury by confining him/her to a safe area until the cause of the problem is determined.
  • Do not allow your dog to rub or self-traumatize the eyes. To prevent self-inflicted damage you may need to obtain a protective collar (called an Elizabethan collar or E-collar) from your veterinarian.
  • Do not administer human over-the-counter medicines such as Visine or other ophthalmic products designed to “reduce eye redness” or irritation as the underlying cause of the problem must be identified.
  • Administer all medications as prescribed and alert your veterinarian if you have any difficulty treating your dog.
  • In-depth Information on Canine Cloudy Eyes 

    Numerous changes in the cornea of the eye may result in cloudiness, including:

  • Corneal ulceration or infection from bacteria, fungi or yeast
  • Corneal scarring from eyelash disorders; inrolling of the eyelids; exposure of the cornea to foreign bodies, drying, heat, smoke, chemicals; eye injury or trauma; inability to blink properly and protect the eye; decreased sensation on the surface of the cornea and resulting poor protection of the cornea; prior corneal surgery
  • Corneal inflammation from inadequate tear production (keratoconjunctivitis sicca; dry eye syndrome), pannus, etc.
  • Corneal lipid deposition that may be inherited (breed-related) or acquired as a result of chronic corneal disease, high fat/cholesterol levels in the body, or chronic hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels)
  • Corneal mineralization (calcium deposits) from chronic corneal disease or associated with chronic kidney disease or certain hormonal diseases, ulceration or metabolic disease
  • Invasion of the cornea with tumor cells (rare)
  • Invasion of the cornea with dark, pigmented cells secondary to dryness, exposure or inflammation
  • Development of corneal edema associated with age or with premature degeneration of the cornea, from glaucoma, in association with inflammation of the interior of the eye, secondary to prior surgery of the cornea, etc.

    Numerous changes in the front chamber and fluid of the eye may cause visible cloudiness:

  • Cloudiness of the fluid in the front chamber from inflammation (uveitis), hemorrhage, trauma, or leakage of fatty material into the eye (from the blood stream)
  • Movement of the lens into the front chamber, particularly if the lens has developed an opaque cataract or is causing corneal edema
  • Collapse of the chamber with movement of the iris towards the front of the eye (secondary to penetrating trauma, lens movement, glaucoma, etc.)
  • Growth of tumor from the iris into the front chamber

    Changes of the lens that cause cloudiness in the eye include:

  • Cataract formation
  • Nuclear sclerosis. This is an age-related lens hardening resulting in an ‘opalescent’ color change to the lens
  • Congenital defects in the blood vessels around the lens

    Changes of the vitreous that may cause obvious clouding of the eye include:

  • Congenital defects of the front portion of the vitreous
  • Vitreal opacities (floaters) that accumulate with inflammation around or within vitreous
  • Hemorrhage in to the vitreous
  • Detachment and forward movement of an opaque retina into the front of the vitreous
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