CARING FOR YOUR PET’S VISION
An animal’s vision is key to optimally living a full, active, and healthy life. But accidents, disease, and age-related conditions can all threaten ocular health. Knowing the symptoms can greatly affect the treatment your pet receives, and the success of that treatment.
In addition to recognizing symptoms and seeking treatment, proper aftercare is often your job at home. Knowing how to administer medication, recognizing signs of complications, and comforting your pet in general is paramount to the best recovery possible.
Signs that your pet may have an eye problem…
- Increased redness or swelling of the eye(s)
- Increased discharge around the eyes (especially green or yellow)
- Cloudiness of the eye(s)
- Squinting or holding the eye(s) closed
- Scratching or pawing at the eye(s)
- Decreased vision in general, or bumping into objects at home
Please contact your family veterinarian or a recommended emergency facility first. They will know best how to deliver the immediate ocular care for your pet, and will refer your pet’s care to Animal Vision Center of Virginia if indicated.
GENERAL EYE CARE INSTRUCTIONS
Cleaning around your pet’s eyes…
Regular cleaning is important to the health of your pet’s eyes. It takes just a few minutes and helps to prevent many problems later in their lives.
Simply use a warm, clean washcloth or ocular wipe to clean the area around the eye. Other than getting rid of any dirt and debris, this keeps the eyes free of any discharge and medication buildup.
My pet is wearing a medical collar, when can I take it off?
If your pet has been instructed to wear an Elizabethan collar, (“E-collar”) please keep it on at all times if possible until you have been instructed to remove the collar. Only remove temporarily if you are directly supervising the patient (i.e.while they are eating or sitting with you). Most pets will adjust to wearing the protective collar at all times after only 1-2 days.
The E-collar is designed to protect the eye and prevent inadvertent self-trauma from pawing or rubbing at the eye. Failure of the surgery performed or rupture of the eye may occur if the E-collar is not worn properly.
GENERAL PRE-OP INSTRUCTIONS
Depending on the particular patient and procedure being performed, your instructions may contain unique limitations or exceptions. Always consult your family veterinarian, or a staff member of the Animal Vision Center of Virginia if you have any doubt or questions about your pet.
- No food after 12am the morning of surgery.
- Water is fine until dropping your pet off for surgery
- Always bring a current list of all your pet’s medications.
- Feed half of a typical morning meal between 6–7am and administer half of the standard insulin dose.
- Bring your pet’s insulin and insulin syringes with you to drop off with patient.
- We will monitor the blood glucose in the morning, and throughout the day to ensure adequate control.
- We will give you instructions for insulin administration the evening following surgery based on the end-of-day reading and on whether your pet eats that evening.
Cataract surgery patients:
- Please begin administering your prescribed pre-operative medications (prednisolone acetate and ofloxacin or neomycin-polymyxin-dexamethasone) 4 times daily, 2 days prior to your scheduled surgery.
- Always wait a minimum of 5 minutes between drops.
Depending on the particular patient and procedure performed, your instructions may contain unique limitations or exceptions. Please monitor your pet for signs of distress or excessive discomfort, and call immediately if any of the following signs are noted:
Increased Redness or Swelling of the Eye(s)
Increased Squinting or Holding the Eye(s) Close
Increased Discharge (especially green or yellow)
Scratching or Pawing at the Eye(s)
Increased Cloudiness of the Eye(s)
Any Indication of Decreased Vision
HOW TO ADMINISTER MEDICATIONS
There are a number of different medications your pet may need following a procedure. Some times giving the medication can be a challenge, however the medications are crucial to the success of the procedure. We hope the instructions below can offer some tips and tricks to make giving your pet medication a painless process.
How to Administer Topical Eye Drops
When applying topical medications, only 1 drop per eye, per treatment is required. It is often times helpful to elevate the patient (if possible) onto a table or countertop to bring them out of their natural environment and better under your control. Place a towel or blanket on the surface to help your pet feel secure. It is always a good idea to clean around the eye and remove any mucus or discharge from the eye by using a clean warm washcloth or ocular wipe before administering medications.
Hold your pet gently, but firmly in front of you with their back towards you. Use your nondominant hand to elevate the chin upwards and pull back the top eyelid. Use your dominant hand to apply 1 drop of the medication. As long as the medication lands anywhere between the eyelids, you have successfully administered the medication!
How to Administer Topical Eye Ointment
If both drops and ointments are used, always apply the drop first, then wait 5-10 minutes before applying the ointment. It is oftentimes helpful to elevate the patient (if possible) onto a table or countertop to bring them out of their natural environment and better under your control. Place a towel or blanket on the surface to increase your pet’s security. It is always a good idea to clean around the eye and remove any mucus from the eye by using a clean warm washcloth or ocular wipe before administering medications.
Hold your pet gently but firmly in front of you with their back towards you. Use your nondominant hand to elevate the chin upwards and pull back the top eyelid. Use your dominant hand to gently compress the tube to allow a small amount of ointment to escape from the tip (~¼ inch length). Manually open the eyelids, and drape the released ointment on the surface of the eye, taking care not to make contact with the eye. Gently blink the eyelids to assist with dispersion of the ointment on the surface of the eye.
How to Administer Oral Medications
For small pills, the best option is usually to try to hide the pill in a small treat for your pet – this could include cream cheese, peanut butter, liverwurst, chicken baby food, or “pill pocket”. If this is unsuccessful, you could also try crushing the pill, and mixing it in any of the above, or in your pet’s wet food. If this is still unsuccessful, you will have to manually pill your pet. To increase your pet’s security, prevent scratching, and give you better control, it is oftentimes useful to wrap your small dog or cat snugly in a towel, like a burrito (this is not possible in larger dogs).
Using your non-dominant hand, grasp the head from above and under the jaw and lift the nose toward the ceiling. Using your dominant hand, grasp the pill between your thumb and index finger and use the middle finger to pull downward and open the lower jaw. Drop the pill, or place the pill at the back of the throat (be careful not to get bitten!). Finally, massage the throat, or follow with a small amount of water in a syringe to ensure that the pill is swallowed.
How to Administer Administer L-lysine to a Cat
There are multiple formulations of L-lysine that can be utilized based on your cat’s preference. If your cat eats wet food, the power form in a capsule is likely to be the easiest version for you to administer. Simply open the capsule, sprinkle over the wet food, and mix thoroughly. If your cat does not eat wet food, but enjoys treats, you may have better luck with the Optixcare L-lysine treats (my cats go crazy for these!).
Finally, if your cat does not like treats or wet cat food, you can try using the L-lysine paste. Wipe the appropriate amount of paste onto the top surface of your cat’s paw, and he or she will typically lick it off in order to stay fully groomed. The paste can also be mixed in with your cat’s dry food.
CARING FOR A BLIND OR VISUALLY-IMPAIRED ANIMAL
While we wish that we could save vision in all of the animals that are under our care, this is not always possible. What is possible is providing youwith all of the information you need to help them adjust to their loss of vision in the most supportive and compassionate way.
Both dogs and cats live in a very different sensory world than our own.
They naturally have less developed detail and color vision, and better developed senses of hearing and smell. For these reasons, they actually tend to adjust to their loss of vision much better than you might think possible.
After going through this process with her own pet, a basset hound with glaucoma, Dr. Heather understands the feelings of despair and trepidation you have for your pet. She also understands the profound ability of animals to adapt to the change with proper support from their family.
Depending on the period of time in which the vision is lost, dogs and cats will go through a period of adjustment. They may appear more reserved or nervous to move around. They will generally display difficulty navigating around their typical environment by frequently bumping into objects. This adjustment period is more dramatic when the vision change is rapid. To help them adjust, you can follow the guidelines to the right.
Finally, it is very important to remember that just because your pet is blind, he or she can still go on to live a happy and complete life, with just a small amount of additional assistance from the family. There are several resources that can be referenced in addition to the tips above including: the BlindDogs website, and the books “Living with Blind Dogs: A Resource Book and Training Guide for the Owners of Blind and Low-Vision Dogs,” “Blind Dog Stories: Tales of Triumph, Humor, and Heroism,” and “Bind Devotion,” among others
Help them memorize their environment by taking care not to move furniture or objects in the home.
Keep their food and water bowl in the same location, to facilitate their ability to find these objects without sight.
Train your pet on a leash inside and outside on frequent walks. Guide them using frequent voice commands like “step up”, “step down”, “to the left”, and “to the right”. This helps your pet understand these terms when not on the leash.
Train your pet to navigate stairs in the home using the above voice commands and leash guidance. Access to stairs should be limited until your pet can handle the steps supervised without difficulty.
Regular access to a body of water or pool should be restricted to prevent inadvertent falls into the water and potential inability to find their way back out.
CATARACT SURGERY INFORMATION
What are cataracts?
A cataract is an opacity or cloudiness that develops within the lens of the eye. The lens is a normally clear structure in the center of the eye that helps to focus light on the retina and allow for fine detail in vision. Therefore, when a cataract develops, it results in cloudy or blurred vision, and up to complete loss of vision.
Click on the questions below to learn more about cataracts and the issues that surround treatment.
A cataract is an opacity or cloudiness that develops within the lens of the eye. The lens is a central, normally clear structure in the center of the eye that helps to focus light on the retina and allow for fine detail in vision. Therefore, when a cataract develops, it results in cloudy or blurred vision, up to complete loss of vision.
It is a common misconception that cataracts in older dogs should not undergo treatment. While some dogs can adapt to the blindness caused by their cataracts, many older dogs will benefit greatly from cataract removal, and are oftentimes reported to seem “younger” or “spunkier” after their vision is restored with surgery. It is also a common misconception that older dogs cannot undergo anesthesia. While we certainly have to be mindful to fully evaluate the dog for concurrent or age-related medical conditions, healthy older animals tend to tolerate anesthesia very well with only minor modifications in the anesthetic protocol. Therefore, there is no true age limit for cataract surgery in dogs.
If your pet has been diagnosed with cataracts and you would like to consider restoring his or her vision with cataract surgery, the next step is to have an evaluation performed by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist. During this examination, your pet will be evaluated for concurrent ocular disease that could prohibit him or her from having a successful cataract surgery, such as corneal disease, severe inflammation within the eyes (uveitis), or retinal disease (degeneration or detachment). We will use a combination of findings from the ocular examination, as well as additional diagnostics, including functional testing of the retinal (electroretinogram) and ocular ultrasound, to make this determination. Your pet’s total body health will also be assessed with a physical examination and with blood and urine screening tests (complete blood count, biochemical profile, urinalysis). If your pet is found to be a good ocular candidate for surgery, and in sufficient overall health to undergo anesthesia, surgery will be recommended.
Any of the following changes could be an indication of a possible complication, and warrant evaluation.
- Increased redness or swelling of the eye(s)
- Increased discharge (especially green or yellow discharge)
- Increased cloudiness of the eye(s)
- Increased squinting or holding the eye(s) closed
- Scratching or pawing at the eye(s)
- Decreased vision
Please call if any of these changes are noted and we will schedule your pet for an evaluation as soon as possible.
Cataract surgery in dogs is actually very similar to cataract surgery in people. First, a small incision is made at the top part of the eye between the clear cornea and the white sclera. Then, the eye is entered and a small circular hole is made within the capsule of the lens. (Think of the lens like an M&M with an outer candy coating/capsule and an inner chocolate filling/lens protein). Ultrasound energy (or phacoemulsification) is then used to break up and suck out all of the abnormal cloudy lens proteins. The capsule is then polished, and an artificial acrylic lens is implanted within the natural lens capsule. Finally, the incision at the top of the eye is closed with very small suture material (approximately the thickness of a piece of human hair). Because the suture is so small and fragile, we ask the dog to wear an Elizabethan collar (E-collar, plastic cone) to prevent inadvertent trauma to the surgical site for the first 7-10 days following surgery.
The success rate for cataract surgery in dogs is quite high, with greater than 90% of cases undergoing a successful procedure and seeing better following surgery. This success rate is mildly reduced in some instances, such as hypermature cataracts, and more dramatically reduced in other instances, such as phacoclastic uveitis.
The main complications following cataract surgery include the development of glaucoma (or increased pressure in the eye), infection within the eye (endophthalmitis), or retinal detachment. Glaucoma occurs in roughly 5% of cases following surgery, and is typically managed with a short course of additional medical therapy to control pressure in the eye. Rarely, medications are ineffective to control the pressure, and an additional procedure (endolaser) will be recommended to control pressure on a more long term basis. The development of an infection within the eye or a retinal detachment can both be severe, vision-threatening complications, however we take every precaution to avoid these outcomes, and fortunately these possibilities occur in less than 1% of cases.
There is a fairly rigorous follow up routine after cataract surgery in dogs. The reason for this routine is to allow the best chance of detecting any potential complication at an early stage when treatment interventions can be effective to reverse the problem. In general, we will see the patient back the day following surgery, 1 week after surgery, then 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months later, and then annually for life. We want the procedure to be a success for your pet just as much as you do, therefore, we include all recheck evaluations for the first month in the cost of the surgery, and ask that you call/bring in you pet for evaluation if there is ever any question as to how he or she is doing at home.
REFILLING A PRESCRIPTION
You may request a medication refill by calling the office directly, or by filling out and submitting one of the following applicable forms. Please allow at least 2 business days to process your refill request.
“When my domestic short hair cat, Fatboy, developed a serious eye infection, I considered taking him to his regular vet. But I decided to take him to Dr. Brookshire instead. He is so afraid of strangers that he normally runs and hides, but to my surprise our visit could not have been more pleasant! Before the exam, Dr. Brookshire won Fatboy over in a matter of seconds with her calm voice and steady hands. After completing the exam and test, Dr. Brookshire determined results while we waited and prescribed the proper medications. From start to finish – under 30 minutes!
Over the next week when I phoned the office with questions, my call was returned before the end of the day with courteous professional advice. I received the same outstanding service at Fatboy’s follow-up appointment, and am happy to report his eye has healed completely. I highly recommend Dr, Brookshire for animal eye care!”
“It is with sadness that we say goodbye to Dr. Brookshire. We have always felt that she and her staff have always provided us with very professional and special care, everything from eye operations, after hour and holiday visits to help and sustain our beloved “Millie Girl” from blindness.
We have had 3 Cocker Spaniels with the same sort of problems and her care and commitment has by far been the very best!”
“Our 9 year old cocker spaniel, Mikey, suddenly went totally blind. Our vet referred us to Dr. Heather Brookshire, who examined and described him as an “interesting and puzzling case.” After performing several tests, Mikey was scheduled for surgery. But his blood work came back abnormal. Being very cautious, Dr. Brookshire referred us to an internist and later a neurologist who found Mikey had septic meningitis caused by a severe ear infection. After Mikey had ear surgery and his infection cured, Dr. Brookshire finally was able to perform eye surgery on our dog. Mikey immediately regained his vision and is more lively and happier than he has ever been!
Because of Dr. Brookshire’s expertise and caution, she not only gave Mikey his sight back but truly saved his life. We have the utmost respect for Dr. Brookshire and recommend her without reservation to anyone needing a canine ophthalmologist. She, in our opinion, is a true miracle worker.”
“I will never be able to say enough for the miracle Dr. Brookshire performed on our Japanese Chin, Precious. Precious was rushed to our local animal hospital with her eye bleeding. The vet thought it was glaucoma and wanted to remove the eye. We immediately asked for alternatives and they referred us to Dr. Brookshire immediately.
Dr. Brookshire determined that she had a corneal perforation of the left eye, not glaucoma. Dr. Brookshire gave us a couple of options fully explaining every one. We opted to have the surgery and a few hours later, we were able to bring Precious home for recovery.
During her recovery, Dr. Brookshire personally called to check up on her. Because of Dr. Brookshire our beloved pet did not lose her eye and has regained her vision. We will NEVER be able to thank her enough.”
“We want to extend to you our congratulations on your new endeavor. The only problem is that it will not be in Brevard County. We were so impressed with you and your colleagues at the clinic in Viera. You were all so caring and very knowledgeable. Billy knew he was in good hands. We will have to start out a day earlier for his re-check next year. It’s a little further to drive to Virginia. We will miss you, but wish you the very best. You are a very caring, competent Veterinarian. Your new patients are very lucky. All the best. Billy sends his love.”
“In December 2014, I received Lisa from a rescue agency. She came with almost no history and was found on the street. She was around 12 years old and blind in one eye with cataracts on both eyes.
Wanting to increase the quality of Lisa’s life I took her in for a vision check by Dr. Brookshire. Dr. Brookshire’s empathic nature instantly relaxed Lisa. She began to wag her tail! We had found the right eye Doctor! While she offered no guarantee, she told me there was a very good chance she could restore Lisa’s vision.
The results were beyond all expectations. Both cataracts had been removed and Lisa had her vision back in both eyes. Both of us will be forever grateful to Dr. Brookshire and her professional and caring staff.
Dr. Brookshire gave Lisa back her life!”
“I met Dr. Heather Brookshire and her awesome team during an emergency. They saw my Taffy immediately and provided treatment and information along with a short and long term plan of care. The team’s efficiency, receptiveness and professionalism have extended way beyond this initial visit as Taffy and I continue to see the doctor regularly. I cannot say enough good things about everyone there. If Taffy and I must make this journey, I am so glad Dr. Brookshire is mapping the course.”
“Dr. Heather was recommended to me by my vets at Animal Medical Center. Our beagle, Scooter, had completely lost his eyesight in both eyes due to cataracts. Scooter had been diagnosed as diabetic a few months prior to losing his sight. I was so impressed with Dr. Heather and all of her staff after our first visit. They were so professional and caring. All my questions and concerns were addressed. Scooter had bilateral cataract extraction the following week. Scooter was able to see immediately after his surgery! I am so thankful for all the love and care Dr. Heather and her staff provided Scooter! They are truly angels!”
“Anyone who has a Boston Terrier knows how we felt when Rooney couldn’t see the cookies we tossed on the floor for him. He tripped on curbs, missed steps…it was painful. We were referred to Dr. Brookshire for evaluation and got a diagnosis of cataracts on both eyes. I’ll be honest, the cost was a drawback for my husband, but as usual he deferred to my opinion that this was necessary to improve Rooney’s quality of life. The surgery was fairly smooth in spite of an episode under anesthesia, which is not uncommon with an 11 year old dog, but Dr. Brookshire handled it expertly and the final result was life changing for our little dog. He now sees all the cookies, all the birds, and he is now the little guy we brought home so many years ago. Albeit with a gray face and a little more chubby. My husband and I agree that it was well worth the care and expense to have our Rooney back and happy. The care and love provided by Dr. Brookshire and her staff are genuine and we are certain, if its possible, that they love our dog as much as we do and are focused on improving the lives of all her patients and their owners. I say owners, but we dog people know I really meant parents. I would refer and recommend her and her practice to anyone without reservation.”
CONSULTATION AND REFERRAL SERVICES
For any consultation or referral request, use the convenient form below. You can also download a paper form and fax it to our office.
Sometimes all you need is a quick question answered or need a second opinion to help a patient. Dr. Heather is happy to give you both.
We will gladly provide ophthalmic consultations for your patients at YOUR veterinary practice. Due to increased time allotments, please allow up to one week for these appointments.
We appreciate and accept any animal in need of ocular care. In our hands, your patients will receive the best diagnosis and care possible.