Corneal ul­cers

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - News - Alis­tair Chatto, vet­eri­nar­ian

THE cornea is the trans­par­ent shiny mem­brane which acts like a win­dow for the front of the eye­ball.

A corneal ul­cer oc­curs when there is dam­age to the lay­ers of the cornea.

These ul­cers can range in sever­ity from those just af­fect­ing the su­per­fi­cial lay­ers, to ul­cers which ex­tend right through to the deep­est lay­ers of the cornea.

Corneal ul­cers can af­fect cats, dogs, horses and cat­tle.

If left un­treated, corneal ul­cers can po­ten­tially cause the eye to rup­ture, where ir­repara­ble dam­age and blind­ness can oc­cur.

The most com­mon causes of corneal ul­cers are due to trau­matic in­juries such as abra­sions or cat scratches.

Other causes in­clude ir­ri­ta­tion from eye­lid ab­nor­mal­i­ties, grass seeds, de­creased tear pro­duc­tion, prob­lems with the eye blink­ing, or in­fec­tious causes.

Corneal ul­cers are painful, so signs to look out for are: squint­ing, rub­bing of the eyes, dis­charge from the eye, or the an­i­mal avoid­ing bright light.

A vet­eri­nar­ian can di­ag­nose corneal ul­cers by closely ex­am­in­ing the eye and with the use of a flu­o­res­cent green stain.

If an ul­cer is present, it will soak up the stain and flu­o­resce un­der UV light.

How­ever, this stain­ing tech­nique is not very ef­fec­tive for deep ul­cers.

Once a di­ag­no­sis of a corneal ul­cer is made, the treat­ment will de­pend on the sever­ity of the ul­cer.

Su­per­fi­cial ul­cers will usu­ally heal by them­selves, with a vet pre­scrib­ing an­tibi­otic oint­ment to pre­vent any fur­ther in­fec­tion whilst heal­ing takes place.

Reg­u­lar re-vis­its to the clinic will be re­quired to mon­i­tor the eye dur­ing this time.

Com­pli­cated or deep ul­cers may re­quire surgery to help the heal­ing process, this some­times re­quires re­fer­ral to a spe­cial­ist.

Corneal ul­cers can de­te­ri­o­rate quickly, so it is very im­por­tant that you have your vet ex­am­ine any eye prob­lems early with your pet.

Some med­i­ca­tions can even make corneal ul­cers worse, so it is not rec­om­mended to treat eye prob­lems at home but rather con­sult with your lo­cal vet­eri­nar­ian.

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