Correctly diagnosing and managing ocular diseases can be difficult for pet owners and veterinarians alike. Recognizing these misconceptions can save you and your pet a lot of time, stress, and sometimes money! 

1. “He’s fine because his eyes don’t seem to bother him.”

Many people with eye diseases complain of migraine-like sensations instead of displaying typical signs of eye discomfort (like squinting or tearing). Imagine your dog or cat having a headache but is not able to communicate the problem to anyone. Might this explain why he or she has been a little less active lately?  Maybe! If your pet’s eye appears abnormal, do right by them and get it checked out. 

2. “It’s just an eye infection.”

Primary bacterial eye infections in dogs are extremely uncommon. There is usually an underlying problem that either mimics a bacterial infection or leads to a secondary bacterial issue. This is why many “eye infections” get better with antibiotic treatment, then subsequently worsen or recur. Don’t be fooled by a temporary response to treatment – get an accurate diagnosis with a comprehensive ophthalmic exam!

3. “Cloudy eyes in old dogs is no big deal.”

The cloudiness that occurs in the eyes of many older dogs is often nuclear sclerosis (age-related thickening of the lens) or cataracts (pathological opacity of the lens). However, other diseases like corneal endothelial dystrophy or degeneration, glaucoma, and uveitis are also common causes of cloudy eyes in senior dogs. Even if you’re interested in conservative (rather than surgical) management, a proper diagnosis and medication plan can prevent small problems from becoming big ones. 

4. “The vet said it’s just a scratch on the eye.”

Some veterinarians use the term “scratch” to describe a corneal ulceration. These are common in brachycephalic dog breeds (ie. those with short noses and prominent eyes). However, trauma to the eye is not always necessary to cause an ulceration. In fact, many corneal ulcerations develop or fail to heal due to eyelid abnormalities, tear film deficiencies, corneal infiltrates, or other underlying issues. Careful investigation for contributing conditions is necessary any time a corneal “scratch” is diagnosed. 

5. “I didn’t know veterinary ophthalmologists exist!”

A veterinary ophthalmologist is an individual that has been through veterinary school, internship(s), and residency training, and has passed rigorous examinations to obtain the status, Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. As a Diplomate of the ACVO, Dr. Kyle Tofflemire is uniquely qualified to diagnose and manage animal eye problems. Because there are only a few hundred veterinary ophthalmologists in the world, he does his best to be convenient and available for you and your pet.