The eyes are one of the most important organs in our bodies. They are crucial for our perception and interaction with the world around us. The same holds for our dogs. True, dogs tend to use their superb sense of smell for interactions with the environment. However, they still rely heavily on their eyesight. Therefore, it’s always concerning when you notice some change or issue in your dog’s eyes. In this article, we will talk about cloudy eyes in dogs and what causes them. So, let’s start.
Causes Of Cloudy Eyes In Dogs
There are several reasons why your dog has cloudy eyes. Some of these causes are not dangerous, while others can cause loss of the eye or can even lead to blindness.
These are the seven most common causes:
- Corneal Dystrophy
- Dry Eye
- Eye Ulcer
- Cataracts in dogs
- Anterior Uveitis
- Lenticular sclerosis
Corneal dystrophy is an inherited condition that occurs in dogs and causes their corneas to become cloudy.
We differentiate three types of corneal dystrophy based on which layer of the cornea is affected by this condition.
Epithelial Corneal Dystrophy
This type of corneal dystrophy affects the superficial layer of the cornea. The main symptom of ECD is the opaque, cloudy eye. However, some dogs may also feel pain and develop sensitivity to light due to the erosions in the corneal layer. This condition is particularly common in Shetland Sheepdogs.
Stromal Corneal Dystrophy
The stromal corneal dystrophy affects the middle layer of the cornea – stroma. Generally, dogs with SCD will show no signs of pain or inflammation. However, the white, silver, or gray opacity will occur in the cornea.
Several dog breeds are prone to developing SCD including Samoyeds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Bearded collies, Weimaraners, Airedales, Cocker Spaniels.
Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy
This condition mostly develops in middle-aged or older dogs. Endothelial corneal dystrophy affects the deepest layer of the cornea. The symptoms are hard to notice during the early stages of the ECD. However, as the condition progresses the fluids start to accumulate in the cornea causing the appearance of cloudy eyes in affected dogs. The ECD can cause the development of corneal ulcers and complete loss of vision in later stages.
Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, and Boston terriers are particularly prone to endothelial corneal dystrophy.
Tears are very important for the protection and overall health of the eye. The eye actually receives nutrients through tears. Therefore, when the dog’s body is unable to produce enough tears, eyes are not lubricated or protected from dust and they become irritated. In some chronic cases, the surface of the eye can scar causing a cloudy eye appearance.
Dry eye can also cause an ulcer to form on the surface of the eye which can lead to pain and even perforation of the eye in extreme cases. Some of the most susceptible breeds to dry eye include, but are not limited to, Pugs and Yorkshire Terriers.
To help your dog you can use eye drops or an ointment. But please talk to your veterinary ophthalmologist before you buy something to treat your dog’s dry eye.
Ulcers are nothing more than sores on the dog’s cornea. They develop as a result of trauma to the eye, bacterial or viral infection, dry eye, etc.
As the ulcers progress, they penetrate different layers of the cornea. Therefore, one can notice a change in color as they penetrate deeper into the cornea. Ulcers may appear as a haze or bluish or reddish spots on the surface of the eye. This causes a cloudy eye appearance, but this is. not the only symptom of eye ulcers. Generally, you will notice your dog squinting since this is a very painful condition and also there will often be plenty of eye discharge.
Cataracts in dogs
Cataracts develop as a result of the change in the lens metabolism due to age, trauma, diabetes, genetics, or metabolic diseases. As a result of this change, proteins start to clump together inside the lens of the eye, gradually diminishing its transparency, thus worsening the dog’s vision or in some cases, it can lead to blindness. As the layer of proteins spreads across the lens it causes a cloudy eye appearance in dogs.
Many dog breeds are susceptible to developing cataracts including:
- Siberian Husky
- Bichon Frise
- Cocker Spaniel
- French Bulldog
- Australian Shepherd
- Boston Terrier
- Silky Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Labrador Retriever
- West Highland White Terrier
To understand anterior uveitis we must first understand what is uvea. The uvea is the pigmented, middle layer of the eye that consists of three parts, the iris, the ciliary body, and the choroid. Iris controls the size of the pupil and gives the eye its color. The ciliary body produces fluid that fills the eye and the choroid nourishes the retina.
Uveitis is when one or more of the structures that make up the uvea becomes inflamed. When all structures are inflamed the condition is called pan-uveitis. On the other hand, if only the iris and ciliary body are inflamed the dog has anterior uveitis.
Some of the most common symptoms of anterior uveitis include cloudy eye, squinting, swelling, redness, excessive tearing, discharge, etc.
Anterior uveitis is a serious eye condition that can lead to the loss of vision if not treated.
Lenticular sclerosis can easily be confused with cataracts as both conditions cause cloudy eye appearance in dogs. However, these are two different conditions. Lenticular sclerosis occurs as the result of aging and it’s not a serious condition nor will it diminish the affected dog’s vision. However, dogs with NS tend to also develop cataracts.
Lenticular sclerosis will usually give your dog’s eyes bluish discoloration, unlike cataracts which are generally opaque or white.
Glaucoma is a condition that occurs as the result of the increased pressure inside the eye. Increased pressure inside the eye can cause permanent damage to the eye structure or even to the optic nerve which would lead to the loss of vision. Therefore, the vets consider increased eye pressure as an emergency.
Some of the most common symptoms of glaucoma include cloudy eye, irritation, and redness of the white of the eye, excessive discharge, dilated pupil, squinting, etc.
Glaucoma is a very serious and painful condition, so if you notice any of these symptoms take your dog to the vet immediately.
Some dog breeds are more prone to glaucoma than others. These are the most susceptible ones:
- Basset Hounds
- Chinese Shar-Pei
- Norwegian Elkhound
- Siberian Husky
- Chow Chow
- Cocker Spaniel
We have shown that there are several conditions that can cause the occurrence of cloudy eyes in dogs. Whatever the cause, the most important thing is that you take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice any of the symptoms mentioned in this article. Some of these conditions are very serious and can cause loss of an eye or blindness.