Worldwide medical and scientific journal for animal health professionals

Issue number 25.3 Other Scientific

How I approach… Canine ocular emergencies

Published 15/04/2021

Written by Elizabeth Giuliano

Also available in Français , Deutsch , Italiano and Español

Ophthalmic emergencies are commonly seen by the small animal practitioner and can be said to include any ophthalmic condition that has rapidly developed or is the result of trauma to the eye and/or periocular structures. 

Canine ocular emergencies

Key points

Ophthalmic emergencies are commonly seen in small animal practice, and with proper treatment most cases can be stabilized until consultation with, or referral to, a veterinary ophthalmologist is possible.


Minimal equipment is necessary to perform a complete ophthalmic exam and the clinician should strive to acquire the “minimum ophthalmic database” to best diagnose and treat ophthalmic patients, although occasionally an aspect of the exam may need to be forfeited due to circumstances.


Components of the minimum ophthalmic database include: menace response, direct and consensual pupillary light reflex, palpebral reflex, Schirmer tear test, fluorescein stain, and tonometry.


Overview

Ophthalmic emergencies are commonly seen by the small animal practitioner and can be said to include any ophthalmic condition that has rapidly developed or is the result of trauma to the eye and/or periocular structures. With proper treatment, most emergencies can be stabilized until consultation with, or referral to, a veterinary ophthalmologist is possible. Most ocular emergencies present due to significant ocular discomfort, loss of vision or compromised globe integrity, and can be classified as being either traumatic or non-traumatic in origin. The first category includes problems such as globe prolapse, conjunctival/corneal foreign body, corneal chemical burn, corneal wound and/or perforation, iris prolapse, and lens rupture with associated phacoclastic uveitis, whilst the second category includes conditions such as orbital cellulitis/abscesses, acute keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), corneal ulcers, acute congestive glaucoma, uveitis, anterior lens luxation, retinal detachment, SARD (sudden acquired retinal degeneration), optic neuritis, and endophthalmitis. Prompt intervention and proper treatment are essential to preserve vision and restore ocular comfort. This article reviews the initial approach to canine ocular emergencies and discusses some of the more common problems, including conditions affecting the orbit and globe, adnexa, conjunctiva, and cornea. Uveitis, glaucoma, and lenticular diseases are other significant ocular diseases that may present as an emergency but are not discussed in detail in this brief review.
 

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