Exophthalmos in Dogs

Overview of Canine Exophthalmos

Exophthalmos is the forward movement of the eyeball, so that it sits in an abnormal position in the eye socket (orbit). It is seen in both dogs and cats and, depending on the underlying cause, affects different ages and breeds.

Exophthalmos should not be confused with actual enlargement of the eye. With exophthalmos the size of the eye is normal, but its position has changed. When the eye itself becomes enlarged, the condition is called buphthalmos. When the eye becomes so exophthalmic that is it no longer in the socket and the eyelids roll behind the eye rather than in front of it, the condition is called a proptosis. Proptosis is discussed in another article.

General Causes of Exophthalmos in Dogs

What to Watch For

Diagnosis of Exophthalmos in Dogs

A complete eye examination and physical examination are indicated to confirm the presence of exophthalmos and to obtain information on potential causes. An oral examination is also an important part of the diagnostic work up. Additional tests may include:

Treatment of Exophthalmos in Dogs

Depending on the underlying cause, specific therapy may be indicated:

Home Care and Prevention for Dogs with Exophthalmos

Administer all medication as directed by your veterinarian and return for follow up visits to monitor response to treatment. The outlook or prognosis is often good for infection behind the eye. The prognosis is variable following trauma. Sometimes both the eye and vision can be saved, while in other instances the eye may be saved, but it is blind. Prognosis for cancer is always poor, but the life of some dogs can be extended for significant periods of time by treating the tumor.

Dogs that are housed in fenced yards or are leash-walked have a much lower incidence of exophthalmos from trauma, so keeping dogs restrained can be an effective preventative measure for this condition. There are no good preventative measures for infection or cancer behind the eye.