Your pet’s vision is critical to their health and well-being, so it’s important to know their eye health is in good shape. Our Charlotte vets share some insight on when and why your pet should get an eye exam.
What is a veterinary eye exam?
Just like their skin, coats, and teeth, our pet’s eyes need periodic checkups and medical attention - especially as our furry friends age.
Eye exams are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to our pet’s overall health. Of course, your pet’s eyesight is important to their health, emotional security and well-being, so it’s critical to stay on top of symptoms of any issues or disorders that may come up.
A board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist can perform an eye exam to check your pet’s eye health and ensure their eyes are functioning normally.
At Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Charlotte, our new patient exams include these tests:
- Slit Lamp Biomicroscopy to evaluate the front of the eye
- Indirect Ophthalmoscopy to evaluate the back of the eye
- Tonometry to check intraocular pressure
- Schirmer Tear Testing to check that your pet’s eyes are producing tears normally
- Fluorescein Staining to evaluate the corneal surface
What’s involved in an eye exam?
During the exam, the veterinarian can assess your pet’s eyesight by:
- Examining tissues surrounding eye and eyelids
- Shining a light into the eyes to see if the pupils constrict normally
- Looking for unusual growths, stray eyelashes, etc.
- Inspect the eye’s surface
- Tossing a ball to find out whether your pet’s eyes follow the object
- Watching him or her walk around the room
- Performing a “menace response test” (gently bringing a finger close to his or her eye to
- watch whether they blink in response)
In some cases, more elaborate eye tests may be needed. If your vet suspects an ulcer or corneal scratch, he or she will place a small amount of dye in the eye. Damaged corneal tissue will appear green, leaving the injury visible on the transparent surface of the eye.
Eye pressure and tear production may also be tested to find out whether any conditions such as glaucoma are developing. The vet can examine the inside of the eye by dilating the pupil with eye drops, allowing him or her to evaluate the retina, lens, optic nerve and blood vessels.
Why should my pet have an eye exam?
Our pets are active creatures, and can’t tell us if their eyes are feeling painful or functioning abnormally, so it’s up to us to check on their eye health. Because some eye conditions will cause pain and may even lead to vision loss, early detection and treatment is essential.
What are the symptoms of eye problems?
Any eye injuries will need to be examined by a qualified veterinarian or veterinary ophthalmologist as soon as possible. There are also some other symptoms of eye problems in pets that should be checked, including:
- Difficulty navigating familiar environments (e.g. rooms in your home)
- Green or yellow discharge around either eye
- Third eyelid is more visible than usual
- One eye appears swollen
- Pawing at the eyes
- One or both eyes are shut
How should I prepare my pet for an eye exam?
While it’s true that you’ll need a trained veterinary ophthalmologist to examine your pet, you can take a few steps at home pre-exam. Begin by carefully trimming away any stray hairs that may rub against your pet’s eye.
Just like us, it can be irritating to our animals to have hair in their eyes. Plus, an errant strand can damage the cornea - the transparent surface of the eye. Note whether the sclera (the white portion of the eye) looks clear. If you notice any redness, inflammation, excessive tearing or abnormal discharge, tell your veterinarian.
When does my pet need to see an eye specialist?
If your pet’s eyes require more advanced treatment or if the eye is not improving with treatment, your veterinarian may refer you to a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist. These specialists can treat severe eye injuries and other conditions, remove cataracts, and take measures to restore vision.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.