Glaucoma In Dogs – Is It Curable?

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Author: Jacob Kay

Glaucoma in dogs is a condition where there is high pressure inside the eyeball of a dog. This high pressure damages the optic nerve and can cause permanent vision loss in a dog. The pain is severe and if left untreated a dog not only risks getting blind for its whole life but, also losing its eye in surgery.

So, here I will discuss this medical condition, and provide you with some useful information on its cause, types, and treatment. Keep reading and you will find out some key details which may help you take care of your furry friend’s eye.

Glaucoma In Dogs

Glaucoma is a condition of the eye where the pressure inside the eye i.e. intraocular pressure (IOP) is elevated. This pressure is gauged using an instrument called a tonometer. Intraocular pressure refers to the pressure of the fluid inside the front chamber of the eye.

Glaucoma dogs cause

In general, the fluid in the eyes continually flows in and out for delivering nutrients and maintaining proper size, shape, and pressure. Glaucoma occurs when there is something blocking the fluid from draining out. This stoppage causes fluid to accumulate inside.

So, dog glaucoma is not caused because of the overproduction of the fluid. In addition, the condition also has two distinctive types:

  1. Primary glaucoma – this type of glaucoma happens to dogs when they inherit some abnormalities from their parents. Some breeds are more prone to this type. Because of the inherited anatomical abnormalities, a dog will suffer from this condition in both eyes.
  2. Secondary glaucoma – usually happens because of a different injury or a medical condition. For example, cataracts, or a tumour in the eye. Such instances trigger pressure as the fluid stops draining inside the eye.

Glaucoma in dogs symptoms

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If you wish to know whether or not there is glaucoma in dogs eye, you need to consider different aspects. As symptoms of glaucoma in dogs vary as per the severity and type of glaucoma the dog has. Dog glaucoma symptoms are as followed:

  • Continuous blinking of the eyes
  • Pain in their eyes. You will see your dog rub their eyes while partially closed. So, if you make approach them and touch them near their eyes, they will move away.
  • Eyes becoming red more than usual.
  • Frequent watery discharge from their eyes.
  • Cloudy appearance in front of the eyes.
  • Visible swelling and bulging of the eyeball. Your dog’s eyes will look red and dilated.
  • Sleeping more than usual and remaining quiet most of the time.
  • Lethargy, less appetite, and unresponsiveness.

You will observe these symptoms and they are likely to grow. If your dog is showing these symptoms rapidly then it’s acute glaucoma. If your dog has chronic glaucoma the symptoms will develop slowly.

Glaucoma Treatment In Dogs

The condition is not curable. But, if the diagnosis is made earlier it is treatable. So, if the condition is diagnosed in earlier stages, a vet can possibly reduce the IOP for reducing the risk of complete. blindness and contain irreversible damage.


A vet will use an instrument called a tonometer for confirming the glaucoma condition in the dog. So, here are some basic steps that a vet may follow:

  • Apply local anaesthetic eye drops to numb the dog’s eye for avoiding any distress.
  • The vet will also look for corneal ulcers or bruises which may hinder the measurement or cause injury.
  • They will gently touch the surface of the dog’s eye and use a tonometer for gauging the pressure inside. Normal IOP for dogs is roughly 10-25 mmHg (millimetres of mercury). A higher value suggests a glaucoma issue.
  • A vet will keep the tonometer closer to the dog’s eye and align it with the centre of the cornea. Afterwards, the tonometer will either apply a small force to the eye or identify the force required to flatten the small part of the cornea. Once this happens, there is an IOP reading useful for proceeding with the necessary treatment.

Treatment of glaucoma in dogs

In any circumstance, there are two types of treatment approaches which are explored.

Normal treatment

The normal course of treatment will involve using eye drops and medications to stabilise the condition. Once stability is achieved, the vet will continuously monitor the dog’s health and keep a closer look at their eyes.

Emergency treatment

Such treatment likely involves providing them with anti-glaucoma medication as it will provide insights into whether the surgery is required or not. For dogs requiring immediate medical treatment, and not responding to any normal treatment or medications, you can expect an immediate surgery.

Based on the diagnosis you shall expect the following course of action for treating dogs glaucoma:

#1. Eye drops and medications

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There are many eye drops and pills which can help reduce the pressure inside a dog’s eyes. Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, beta-blockers, and prostaglandin analogs, are some drops useful in dealing with glaucoma, and mannitol is a medication.

Based on the symptoms, these medications and drops will either reduce the overproduction or increase the drainage of fluid. Let’s see how they assist in reducing the symptoms of glaucoma:

Eye drops

  • Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors – like dorzolamide and brinzolamide are responsible for blocking an enzyme which plays a crucial role in the production of fluid in the eye and is given twice a day.
  • Beta-blockers – like timolol and betaxolol decrease the production of fluid in the eye. It does it by blocking the receptors which stimulate it. Like carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, beta-blockers are also given twice a day.
  • Prostaglandin analogs – like travoprost, latanoprost, and bimatoprost elevate the discharge of fluid from the eye. The muscles near the drainage channels are given once a day.

These eye drops help in containing the symptoms of glaucoma in our furry friends. They will also prevent damage to the retina and optic nerve to some extent. But, remember, they will not cure the glaucoma issue.


  • Mannitol – this is a type of sugar which is given as an injection while treating in emergencies. They quickly lower the eye pressure by increasing the osmotic pressure in the blood.

The medication helps in relieving the pain and distress in dogs’ eyes. Yet, it’s not a long-term solution and may have some side effects.

#2. Surgery

Here are some surgeries a vet may opt for while treating glaucoma:

  • Laser surgery

The laser beam is used for destroying the tissue which produces fluid in the eye. This is referred to as the ciliary body. It reduces the fluid and also relieves the pressure in the eyes. The laser is passed through the cornea and a small incision is made in the eye.

  • Endolaser cycloblation

A laser probe is inserted into the dog’s eye via a small incision. Then the probe delivers the laser energy to the ciliary body. Once it reaches there it will shrink and reduce the fluid production. This surgery lowers the pressure in the eyes and helps in preserving some vision.

  • Gonioimplantation

This surgery involves the placement of a small tube or a shunt in the dog’s eye. The tube will allow fluid to drain from the eye to a reservoir beneath the conjunctiva. The pressure is reduced and fluid accumulation is also controlled.

  • Shunt implantation

In this surgery, a small device is planted in the eyes. This device basically helps in controlling the flow of fluid from the eye to the area underneath the skin. The device has a valve which helps in regulating the flow of fluid. It closes when the pressure is low and opens when it’s too high. This is helpful in maintaining a steady pressure in the eye and also in preventing any damage to the retina or optic nerve.

While these surgeries help in containing the symptoms and prevent vision loss, it’s crucial to remember these are not a cure. Post-surgery there are many complications and a dog owner will face some significant challenges. Possible infection, inflammation, scarring, displacement or failure of the device, or bleeding are some of the issues.

Hence, it becomes mandatory for one to visit the specialist and get regular check-ups for their furry friend’s eyes. Also, these surgeries are for secondary glaucoma.

#3. Eye removal

In extreme cases, when glaucoma is severe and there is no scope for any treatment or surgery, the eyes are removed for reducing the pain, and prevent further damage. The process is referred to as enucleation. A vet may also remove the eyelids along with the eyes.

  • Enucleation

A dog is under anaesthesia, and once the eyes and eyelids are removed, the wound is stitched. This is an extreme procedure but, is only executed when no other treatment or surgery is feasible. This surgical option is extreme but, helps in improving the quality of life of a dog, especially if a dog has a tumour near the area.

The recovery from enucleation approximately takes two weeks. Meanwhile, the dog will need to take their medications, and antibiotics and have regular checkups for ensuring there is no complication. If the recovery goes well, and the dog receives continuous support and training, it can easily adapt to its new situation i.e. start living with one eye or, without any eyes.

#4. Alternative medications

There are some natural remedies for treating glaucoma. They may not cure the disease but, are known for relieving pain in the eyes. Here are some of these remedies:

  • Turmeric

This spice retains a compound which has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The compound is curcumin. The presence of curcumin may help with oxidative stress in dogs having glaucoma and also safeguard the optic nerve. It prevents damage when IOP is high.

  • CBD oil

This natural remedy is a natural extract that originates from the hemp plant. The substance can interact with the endocannabinoid system in dogs and help keep a state of balance and health. CBD oil can help in decreasing the IOP, soothe pain, and reduce inflammation.

  • Eyebright

This herb is used since ages for the treatment of eyes. It helps in tackling issues such as inflammation, eye irritation, and discharge in dogs suffering from glaucoma.

While these natural remedies may seem good alternatives, there is no guarantee of a dog recovering from glaucoma. Also, it’s not completely safe and replacing the traditional course of treatment with such a natural remedy can get risky. So, it’s important for you to consult a vet before using any of these alternative medications.

Glaucoma Dog Treatment: Tips For Post-Treatment Care

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Your furry friend will require your support in recovering after the treatment for glaucoma. The post-treatment care will also include a routine which will mandate you to provide them with some medications. Here are some of the crucial tips you need to consider after treatment:

  1. Medicine subordination – make sure you follow the vet’s instructions, and provide the anit-glaucoma medicines, eye drops or pills regularly to your furry friend. This will help in maintaining eye pressure.
  2. Monitor their eyes – after the treatment, especially the surgery, it’s crucial to continuously monitor your dog’s eyes. If there are any signs of redness, swelling or discharge, contact your vet immediately.
  3. Clean eyes frequently – it’s important to clean your furry friend’s eyes after the treatment to facilitate their recovery and prevent vision loss. You need to gently wipe the area and remove any dust or discharge. Use a moist cotton ball for this and don’t make direct contact with their eyes i.e. rub or touch.
  4. Prevent injury – there is already a substantial vision loss and damage done to your furry friend’s eye and an injury post-treatment is the last thing you want for them. So, keep sharp edge objects away from them and also avoid any intense activity or playing exercise for preventing any potential injury to their eyes.
  5. Soft meals – make sure your dog is getting soft meals. This is important because if their meal contains bones or hard food ingredients, chewing hard may cause strain in their eye muscles.
  6. Maintain normal pressure – the IOP pressure must remain normal otherwise your dog’s eyes can face additional damage. You can visit your vet for a thorough assessment or get a tonometer to check yourself. If there are any fluctuations in the levels you can consult the vet and confirm whether there is any change required in their regular dosage.
  7. Keep the environment soothing – your furry friend will require a warm and quiet place for better recovery. Make sure you deliver a soothing environment for them to rest and heal. Keep out the loud noises, avoid chaotic situations, and useless bright lights.
  8. Maintain visual consistency – frequent changes in the visuals can induce strain in your furry friend’s eyes. Thus, maintain visual consistency in their surrounding environments and help them familiarise themselves with it. Avoid altering their routines, and no socialisation to maintain consistency.
  9. Health support – use quality food products, provide useful supplements, play with them, and also show emotional support while your furry friend is recovering. For additional support, leverage different therapies such as massage, herbal treatment or acupuncture for maintaining a good quality of life.
  10. Regular check-ups – even if you feel your dog is recovering well, you need to visit your vet regularly for checking their vision and overall eye health. This is important as your dog may have some additional issues or symptoms which may not have appeared or were visible to you. So, if you miss any symptoms, the tests conducted during these follow-up check-ups will help identify such issues.

Precautionary measures for glaucoma dogs

We saw the post-treatment care for dogs recovering from glaucoma, but, if you already know that your dog breed is prone to glaucoma, it’s best you try and take some precautionary measures for avoiding this condition, or at least contain it to some extent.

Below are some of the precautionary measures you can take for a dog prone to glaucoma:

  • Regular eye check-up

Continuous check-ups will help in ensuring that your furry friend’s eye health remains good. The most crucial benefit of regular check-up is that it helps in early detection. If you have a breed who is likely to suffer from this disease this can help in delaying the blindness if not prevent it.

  • Screening of dogs before breeding

If you have multiple dogs, and you plan on breeding them, have them screened for glaucoma before breeding. This will help in identifying whether or not the puppies will inherit glaucoma or possess the risk. Thus, if the score is poor avoid breeding.

  • Prevent infections and injuries

In the majority of cases, infection or injury near the eyes has caused glaucoma in dogs. You must try and prevent injuries to your dog’s eyes and also make sure they are not infected. For infection, keep their body clean, especially their hands. They are likely to induce a reaction in the eyes if their hands are dirty.

  • Use natural remedies

You must consider utilising natural remedies after consulting your vet. Because there are some natural remedies which can help improve a dog’s eye health. As mentioned earlier, you can use CBD oil for reducing the inflammation in the eyes. They are known to have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective capacities to help treat glaucoma.

  • Protective eyewear

Protective eyewear can come in handy for dogs who are prone to glaucoma. These protective eye wears can help in safeguarding your dog’s eyes from dust, debris and UV rays. In addition, such protective gear can also help in avoiding any injuries or infections which could trigger glaucoma.

  • Keep dog calm

If your dog is feeling stressed or anxious, it could elevate its blood pressure and eye pressure simultaneously. In addition, dog’s immune system is also compromised and they become more vulnerable towards infections or diseases which may cause glaucoma.

  • Provide a soft and balanced diet

Make sure you provide a balanced diet to your furry friend. It must also be soft so, that they don’t feel pressure in their eye muscles while chewing their food. Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins A, E, and C are helpful in protecting eye tissues from inflammation and oxidative stress.

  • Follow the vet’s advice

Your vet who is examining your dog’s eyes regularly will suggest you some eye drops and medications for avoiding the condition. You must properly follow these suggestions to ensure your furry friend doesn’t have to suffer from glaucoma and even if they do, the damage is not severe.


What is end-stage glaucoma in dogs?

The end-stage glaucoma in dogs is referred to as stage 4. In this stage, there are no healthy eye tissue left and vision is almost lost. However, it’s not necessary that your dog will completely lose their vision but, it’s a definite prospect. The other stages are not as fatal as 4th but, are no good. Stage 1 will have mild intraocular pressure, Stage 2 will have blurry vision and moderate eye pain, and Stage 3 glaucoma is considered an advanced stage where the blockage and angle i.e. closed or open will suggest whether it’s treatable or not.

Is dog glaucoma painful?

Yes, glaucoma is a severe condition and it is painful. Your dog will need treatment or surgery. The treatment or surgery is for ensuring that the pressure is not increased in the future. So, if the treatment is initiated in later stages, your furry friend is at risk of losing their vision. Regardless, if you follow the vet’s instructions, and plan their lifestyle accordingly, they can still live a proper life afterwards.

What is the cost of treatment for glaucoma in dogs?

The price for the treatment for glaucoma in dogs relies on the type of treatment. If it’s a medication-based treatment, you can expect medicine and injections price to range from £60 to £1,185. If the vet has suggested surgery, you may have to spend between £390 to £3,200. This was just an approximate estimation, the type of surgery also has a significant impact on the costs. For instance, Glaucoma shunt surgery may cost roughly £2800-£3400.

Which breeds are prone to glaucoma?

The breeds who are prone to primary glaucoma are – Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Shiba Inus, Huskies, Chow Chows, Shar Peis, Springer Spaniels, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Welsh Terriers, Flat-coated Retrievers. The ones who suffer from secondary glaucoma are – American Cocker Spaniel, Poodle, Siberian Husky, Jack Russell Terrier, Tibetan Terrier, Border Collie,  Australian Cattle Dog, Golden Retriever, Bichon Frise, Boston Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, German Shepherd, Akita, and Labrador Retriever

Final Remarks On Glaucoma In Dogs

Glaucoma is a fatal condition in dogs. The pain is severe and the end result leads to permanent vision loss. This happens because the pressure inside their eyes becomes too high. This damages their retina and optic nerves.

The condition has two types – primary and secondary and there are four different stages of severity. The fourth stage is where there is no scope for recovery and the dog goes blind. Some breeds are prone to this disease. The condition is measured using proper instruments and a vet comes up with a suitable treatment plan.

Early detection and treatment may help in preventing permanent vision loss, but, it’s quite possible that a dog may lose its vision anyway. In such circumstances, it’s important for dog owners to ensure they provide the best care possible.

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Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

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