Corneal ulcer or eye ulcer is a common occurrence in dogs. An eye ulcer is a painful and uncomfortable condition that can lead to even more serious eye problems and eventually the affected dog can lose his eye.
However, to fully understand what is a corneal ulcer we must first understand what is cornea.
What Is The Cornea?
The cornea is a transparent membrane located in the front of the eyeball. There are three different layers in the cornea and each layer has a specific function. These layers are all transparent, so it’s impossible to see them with the naked eye. The first layer of the cornea is the epithelium, the second layer is the stroma and the third layer is Descemet’s membrane.
What Exactly Is A Corneal Ulcer?
When corneal erosion affects only the first layer of the cornea, this condition is called corneal abrasion or corneal erosion.
On the other hand, a corneal ulcer occurs when there is an erosion of the first two corneal layers. In other words, when erosion goes through the epithelium and penetrates the stroma, your dog has a corneal ulcer.
However, if the erosion penetrates the third and the deepest coronal layer (Descemet’s membrane) a very serious condition is formed. This condition is descemetocele, and if the Descemet’s membrane ruptures, the dog will lose the affected eye.
It is important to notice that corneal abrasion can progress and become a corneal ulcer or even descemetocele.
Causes Of Dog Eye Ulcer
There are several causes of eye ulcers in dogs. However, by far the most common cause of dog eye ulcers is trauma. A dog eye ulcer can be a consequence of blunt trauma, a scratch, or contact with a foreign body. Also, erosion of the corneal layer can be a result of coming in contact with a chemical substance that irritates the eye.
Other causes of dog eye ulcer include:
- Viral infections
- Bacterial infections
- Weakening of the cornea (Epithelial dystrophy)
- Dry eye (Drying of the cornea due to the lack of tearing)
- Cushing’s disease
Symptoms Of Dog Eye Ulcer
If your dog has an eye ulcer, you will notice one or all of the following symptoms:
- Cloudy eye
- Bloodshot eye
- Redness and inflammation of the eye
- Rubbing and scratching at the face and the eyes
- Visible hole on the surface of the eye
- Excessive blinking
- The dog is avoiding bright lights
- Weepy eye
Corneal Ulcer Diagnosis
A fluorescein stain test is used to determine the presence of corneal ulcers. If there are corneal ulcers present, the stain will adhere to them and turn green.
Dog Eye Ulcer Treatment
The treatment of dog eye ulcer is based on the severity of corneal erosion.
If it’s corneal erosion, it will heal within five days. The vet may prescribe antibiotic drops to prevent bacterial infections and drops to soothe the pain.
However, if it’s a corneal ulcer or descemetocele, surgery may be required to protect the eye and promote healing.