A simple ulcer forms due to a minor abrasion of the cornea. These ulcers generally heal within a few days, often before a problem is even noticed.
Treatment of an ulcer that has formed as the result of an irritant, such as an embedded grass awn, abnormal eyelashes or an eyelid mass rubbing on the surface of the eye, requires elimination of the irritant for the ulcer to heal. Surgery is often required to correct the problem.
Any type of ulcer can become infected with bacteria. Specialized tests will help to determine the type of infection present. An infected ulcer requires the use of targeted, aggressive antibiotic therapy, or in some cases, surgery to stabilize the corneal surface. Infected ulcers can progress through the cornea rapidly. When the ulcer reaches 50% depth in the cornea, surgical stabilization with a corneal or conjunctival graft is generally recommended. Your family veterinarian or a veterinary ophthalmologist will make this assessment to help prevent rupture and potential loss of your pet’s eye.
An indolent ulcer forms in an older dog due to a breakdown in the connections between the top layers of the cornea. This type of ulcer requires treatment with a procedure called a grid keratotomy to allow for complete healing. Your family veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist for this procedure.