Q: Dr. Tofflemire,
I noticed these brown dots on my dogs eye. I am looking for insight on what it could possibly be.
A: Hi Ashley,
Your pup appears to have several small, ovoid masses in the gravity-dependent (lower) portion of the eye. Possibilities include uveal cysts, melanoma, and inflammatory swellings. In your pup’s case, I’m most suspicious of uveal cysts given the ovoid shape, quantity, and gravity-dependent location. This can usually be verified using slit-lamp biomicroscopy (a standard technique of comprehensive ophthalmic evaluation) and, if necessary, ultrasonography.
Uveal cysts are fluid-filled spherical structures that arise from the iris or other vascular parts of the eye. They’re usually somewhat transparent, but can be heavily pigmented. The jury is still out on the precise cause of uveal cysts, but we believe genetic influences, congenital malformations, and inflammatory issues may play a role.
The good news is that uveal cysts rarely cause problems. Although if they become very large or numerous enough, they may obstruct the pupil and vision. In these cases, we might consider aspiration of the cyst(s) or, more commonly, transcorneal ablation using a laser.
Interestingly, uveal cysts have been associated with uveitis, glaucoma, and/or cataracts in some breeds, including Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, and American Bulldogs. In these breeds, I recommend more careful monitoring, medical treatments, and sometimes surgery.