Structure and Function of the Eye in Dogs

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What Are Common Diseases of the Canine Eye?

Despite the relatively small size of the eyes, any disorder that might impact sight is considered serious. A surprisingly great number of diseases affect the various structures and portions of the eye. The common diseases include injury and trauma, conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva or “pink eye”), corneal ulcers, corneal inflammation (keratitis), inflammation of the uveal layer of the eye (uveitis), glaucoma (high pressure within the eye), and certain diseases of the retina and orbit. A variety of tumors can also affect the eyelids, internal structures of the eye, and the orbit.

What Types of Diagnostic Tests Are Used to Evaluate the Eye?

Veterinarians and veterinary ophthalmologists use a number of different tests to evaluate the eye. Specific tests are designed to evaluate selected segments and functions of the eye. A thorough ophthalmic examination using an external light and ophthalmoscope is very important. In addition, the following tests are important disgnostic tools:

  • Fluorescein staining of the cornea is used to detect ulcers.
  • A Schirmer tear test is used to measure tear production.
  • Slit lamp biomicroscopy is used to examine the front 1/3 of the eye including the lens.
  • Tonometry is used to measure intra-ocular pressure.
  • Ocular ultrasound is used to evaluate the inner eye and structures of the orbit.
  • Electroretinography (ERG) is used to test the retina.
  • X-rays or specialized imaging (CAT scan, MRI) may be needed to evaluate the orbit, the nerves leading back to the brain, and the bones that surround the eye.
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