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Although it's often difficult to see, occasionally you will notice that your pet has a problem with its eyes. Symptoms of optical issues include noticing that they are uncomfortable in bright light, that they're closing or squinting their eyes. There may be a visible discharge from their eyes or you may see some degree of redness. Sometimes excessive blinking can also be an indication of an eye problem, plus of course, the obvious blindness or sight problems which you would notice were they to be running into things or not seeing toys or treats that you throw.

When you look at your pet's eyes closely you may see a white or glazed area which could indicate cataracts, or there may be a physical cut in or around the eye which could indicate a level of bleeding.

Some common eye conditions include:

Corneal ulcers which are surface erosions within the eye. Ulcers can occur from a trauma to the eye, but can also be caused by a hair or eyelash that scratches against the eye, a problem with poor tear production or high intra-ocular pressure. Signs can often be a squinting or closing of the eye. The animal may attempt to relieve the pain by rubbing its eye with its paws or even on the ground. Ulcers are often not visible and can only be seen when the vet places fluorescent staining in the eye to highlight them.

Dogs have three eyelids, two of which are visible and one which is hidden. When this third eyelid is prolapsed, this can cause what’s called Cherry Eye and it will appear swollen at the corner nearest the nose. Treatment usually involves immediate surgery as permanent damage can occur to the tear gland, which will lead to further problems with their eyes in future.

Glaucoma is something that you may have heard about in humans and indeed you may have had a pressure test at your opticians to test for this. Glaucoma can affect pets as well but it's often not noticed until it becomes serious when there is visible redness or cloudiness in the eyes, or there is obvious vision loss.

Cataracts can be caused by certain diseases, genetics, or just age and can occur following trauma or inflammation. The clear part of the eye needed for focusing whitens and this impairs the animal's sight and may lead to blindness.

If cataracts that are genetically passed on, they can occur at any age. Dogs that are Diabetic are extremely prone to cataracts but the correct balance of diet and exercise can help to control both conditions. Surgery can remove cataracts but is not always the best option.

Conjunctivitis in dogs is also known as “pink eye” or “red eye” and is a common problem. It can occur as a result of an allergy, perhaps something as simple as pollen. Certain pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi may all be responsible for conjunctivitis. Where it is caused by an infectious pathogen, be aware that this may be contagious and can be passed onto other animals very easily.

Symptoms of conjunctivitis are redness or occasionally a pinkish tinge around the eyes. A discharge is produced, anything from a watery liquid to a more serious pussy, mucous form. Vets will flush the eye and in some cases, antibiotics will be required. The discharge around the eye should be wiped off with a warm damp cloth and then wiped dry as soon as possible.

It's important that you take a close look at your pet's eyes, so you know what is normal for them. Make regular checks so should you see a problem, you can act quickly and provide the appropriate care.