Pet Health Library

Glaucoma in Dogs


Glaucoma is the term used to describe an increase in pressure on the eye, which makes the drainage of eye fluids difficult. This increase in pressure can result in loss of sight in the affected eye(s), especially if left untreated. Glaucoma can develop rapidly or slowly over-time.

There are two types of glaucoma:

  • Primary Glaucoma is uncommon. It occurs when one (or both) of your dog’s parents has/have a minor physical defect that causes poor fluid drainage in the eye. This defect can then be genetically passed down to your dog. These defects also make your dog’s eyes prone to poor fluid drainage.
  • Secondary Glaucoma is more common and is a result of trauma or conditions such as tumors, blood clots, or infection.

Knowing the signs of glaucoma is important in order to catch it early and to have the best chance of correcting the problem.


  • Eye pain
  • Watery discharge
  • Depression
  • Lack of energy
  • Swelling of the eye
  • Redness
  • Cloudiness
  • Blindness


In order to confirm that your dog is has glaucoma, your vet may use a tonometer. This is a device that is placed on your dog’s eye to measures the pressure of the eye pushing outward. Use of the tonometer is painless for your dog and will be used after your dog’s eye has been numbed with a special eye-drop.


Treatment options for glaucoma depend on the severity of the condition. Glaucoma affects your dog in different was and so your vet will determine the best ways to deal with each

Because the main cause of the condition is poor drainage, your vet may prescribe a medication that reduces the flow of eye fluids. By reducing the flow of these fluids, the pressure might start to decrease. Your vet may also prescribe a pain medication to make your pet more comfortable.

While these options can provide relief for you dog, dogs often lose sight in the affected eye(s). If medication does not work, and your vet thinks surgery will help, then your vet may refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist. The veterinary ophthalmologist will discuss with you if surgery is right for your dog. Even with surgery, your dog may still lose sight.

If surgery and medication are unsuccessful, eye removal (enucleation) may be recommended. Because glaucoma can be painful for your dog, the removal of the eye may be considered in order to improve your dog’s quality of life. Your vet will discuss your options with you so that you can make the best decision for your dog.


While there is no known way to prevent glaucoma, taking your dog to the vet for annual check-ups, which include an eye exam, will help your vet catch any issues early on.

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About Ophthalmology at AMC

The Ophthalmology Service at AMC provides scheduled and emergency care for companion animals with eye and vision problems. Under the direction of a renowned, board certified Ophthalmologist, we offer the latest diagnostic and treatment techniques using state-of-the-art instrumentation.

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