Lucy’s Story: Her Struggle with Glaucoma, Eye Removal and Blindness

In late October 2011, I did what most dog owners do and took my dogs to get their yearly vaccinations. It was a very hot summers day and Bronnie (my sighted dog) somehow came off her leash and made a mad dash up the road chasing something or other. By the time we got her back and in the car, (which by the way you could have baked a roast in, it was that hot), both dogs arrived at the vet hot and bothered and were declared to be too overheated to be given their vaccinations. So after spending an hour or so at the vet that included a wash down in nice cold water…which they loved by the way (I’m being sarcastic here), they had their vaccinations and we took them home.

The next day when I came home from work, I was greeted at the door by Lucy looking extremely unhappy. She is usually a bright and happy dog so I knew straight away she wasn’t well and her right eye was closed and oozing some yucky stuff out of it. I immediately thought she must have had a reaction to the vaccinations so took her straight back to the vet to get her checked out. The young vet wasn’t quite sure what it was, perhaps uveitis and/or conjunctivitis, but he didn’t think it had anything to do with the vaccinations. He wanted the head vet to take a look but he wouldn’t be in until the next morning. I was prescribed Amazin (an eye ointment) to put in her eye and told to come back in the morning.

The next morning I take her in first thing and the head vet looks her over and tells me that it looks like glaucoma. In hindsight if she had been diagnosed straight away the eye might have been saved but there’s no point looking to the past and in reality the eye would probably have gone eventually anyway. But for the moment I don’t know any of this so I take her home and start her on Xalatan and Trusopt drops.

Over the next six weeks she had regular weekly tests to check the pressure in her eye. At the time, I didn’t know what was a good pressure reading and what wasn’t but now when I look back I realize that they weren’t good…averaging around 40. They should ideally be in the teens and lower. I also didn’t know that she would have been in pain with all of this. She didn’t look like she was in pain so I can only hope that it wasn’t severe but there would have been some sort of pain and probably pretty much constant for six weeks.

During this time, the head vet had been overseas and when he returned and checked the eye he pretty much came to the same conclusion that I had reached by that point, and that was that the eye had to come out. She had no sight in it and the drops weren’t making much difference to the pressure. As devastating as it was for me, I knew she would cope so we scheduled to have her eye out the next Tuesday…only a week or so before Christmas.

On the day that I took her in I was pretty calm about it all. It was only when I put her in the cage at the vet’s office that it suddenly hit me and as I left I got a bit teary. During the day I couldn’t concentrate. I wasn’t worried about the eye being removed at that point, but more worried about her getting through the operation okay. I couldn’t wait for the phone call from the vet and when it finally came and they said that she had come out of the operation okay and could be picked up, I was very much relieved.

When I went to pick her up I was expecting her to be groggy and out of sorts, but on the contrary. She was bright and happy and very excited to see me. I must admit, she did look a bit odd to me at first. It does take a bit of getting used. Whenever I take her out, people can’t help but look and you can see the look on their faces…it takes them a second or two to actually realize that her eye has been removed.

My only other concern at that point, was that the vet had mentioned that glaucoma is hereditary in cocker spaniels so it was most likely that the other eye would go the same way. This hit me harder than everything that had happened so far because I realized then that she would be permanently blind. I’ll be honest and say that my first reaction was that I would have to put her down. That was my ignorance showing at that point. I just assumed that blind dogs couldn’t function without their sight. I laugh at that now because I know that the opposite is the case. Blind dogs cope quite well with blindness, probably much better than humans.

Fortunately just reading a few blind dog stories on the net changed my attitude completely. I was still concerned about her eventually losing her sight but I knew that if other people lived happily with their blind dogs then I could as well.

After the operation, all went well. Lucy could still see with her other eye so nothing much had really changed. I started feeding both her and my other dog Bronnie, a proper diet with no commercially manufactured foods…raw meats, raw bones, some vegetables thrown in here and there and good supplement. I thought this might keep the glaucoma at bay but unfortunately this wasn’t to be the case.

In May 2012, about a week after I returned from overseas we woke up to find that Lucy was blind in her other eye. Fortunately this time, I realized what was going on and after a quick trip to the vet, and some Xalatan drops, the pressure dropped and her sight returned.

The Xalatan drops seemed to do the trick and held the pressure back for a couple of months. I was also giving her vitamin C as I had read about others success with it. However, it didn’t last long and in July 2012 she lost her sight again and this time it was obvious that no amount of drops were going to do the trick. The pain for her would have been unbearable – she was miserable and I could tell she was in a lot of pain.

The eye vet had suggested laser surgery and after one more severe spike I decided to try it to see if her sight could be saved. So we set out with only a half hours notice on a four hour trip to the eye specialist in Sydney. It was a real relief to finally get her there because I knew they would work at getting the pressure down. She had a terrible couple of days with the pain and I didn’t want to see her suffer any longer.

They managed to get her pressure down overnight and operated the next day. Unfortunately it wasn’t as successful as we all would have liked. Lucy went through two laser surgeries, had various injections in her eye and spent over a week at the eye clinic. Eventually, they had done as much as they could do with the eye and told me that only time will tell now. She has been home for over a week and still no sight but the trauma to the eye was pretty intense and it will take time for things to quieten down. I would like to see her get some sort of sight back to her eye even if it is only shadows but I know that even if she stays permanently blind she will cope and so will I.

11 thoughts on “Lucy’s Story: Her Struggle with Glaucoma, Eye Removal and Blindness

  1. Debra

    We just learned yesterday that our 12 year Bassett Hound has glaucoma in one eye and it is primary (heredity) glaucoma and there is very little hope that the eye will be saved. Eye doctor told us the other eye generally follows & we will have to be vigilant to medicate with preventative for the other eye. We took her in with cloudy eye & I was just thinking it was an infection. We were sent on to the specialist. Immediately she saw it was glaucoma. I didn’t want to believe it. She seemed ok except I had noticed there was more eye discharge. She always has some due to the way her lashes are. I thought maybe it was an allergy. Next day the eye was cloudy. Pretty much from what I have read and what the eye vet told me, even if we had come in at the first sign of more discharge ( two days ago) there still wouldn’t have been much luck on saving the eye due to the predisposition of the Bassett Hound for this disorder. I am currently in shock! There may be only a few weeks to months with vision for the other eye. We are a family of four and we are older parents, husband 58 and I’m 54. My husband has a life threatening disease and I have several life altering disorders & disease. Our children are 17 (a senior) and 12 (a 7th grader). I was older when I had my children & had been told I’d never have kids. I know the preciousness of life and being given charge of that life.

    I have cried all night but am trying to be upbeat for my children but they know I am grieving just as they are. Laurel is an outside dog & our yard is not fenced. My husband is allergic to dogs. We are tapped out with our own illnesses but I will find a way to take care of Laurel. I, like you, thought maybe a blind dog would have to be put to sleep. After a prayerful & sleepless night I know I can’t do that just because the sweet girl can’t see. I thought about contacting a rescue operation that would maybe take her. I can’t do that either. She needs the love and comfort lof who she loves and where she has lived for 10 years. I was thrown away in a divorce and went ” from pillar to post” to live with people who really didn’t want me and a mom too sick to take care of me. I can’t just leave something so sweet or give her away. My children’s father just walked away when the children were 5 & 11 years old because “it was just too hard to raise kids”. I do not want them to think that when animals or people get to be a burden, it’s just ok to leave them or “throw them away”. The love and sweet times are worth all the care giving and “burden” that either can be. I am a caregiver by nature. I am just trying to be prayerful& hopeful. I believe in God & know he can do miracles. If that doesn’t happen here there will be a reason which I will slowly learn that only He knows right now. She will live here where she has always been. If we have to make a house dog out of “Miss Stinky” as we refer to her because she literally smells so hound doggie, we’ll do it. She loves to make a rut in the yard & wallow in it. I don’t know how this will work with my sweet husband who came along & has been the best husband & father, but has the dog allergy. He is crazy about Laurel too he sits on the deck with her & gives her treats and rubs her long stinky ears. Just remember us we need encouragement right now. Prayer, for those who pray, would be great as well. Thanks Paula for sharing your story.

    Debra

    1. Ailish

      Debra I really Feel your Pain. We are going through the same thing with our Oscar. I hope you and your Bonnie are doing ok. I will keep praying for your baby as I do my own. God bless.

      1. Debbie

        Hi Ailish and Debra. My heart breaks to read your stories. I too have a dog that was diagnosed with glaucoma in July. We thought, as well as the vet, that it was an infection. Since our Siberian Husky is only 3, they didn’t check him for glaucoma on the first visit. When we went back to the doggie ER 3 days later, I was in shock and cried like a baby when they said it was glaucoma. I too thought we would have to put him down. After talking to a lot of peope and researching, we have made the decision to do our best to take care of him. We are so attached to him. We will all get through this struggle together. I will be praying for you all.

  2. Paula - ADMIN Post author

    You sound like a beautiful person Debra so i know your dog is in good hands. I also know right now that it seems like it’s all too much but I can honestly tell you that it isn’t as bad as it seems. I think most blind dog owners go through basically the same thing. They are all devastated at the start but as time goes on and they realise that yes, the dog can still function perfectly well without their sight, then all their worries just wash away. You will feel the same….eventually, but right now you are going through the initial turmoil.

    My dog is completely blind and yet she still wags her tail beautifully when she knows I’m around, she still finds her dog bowl without any problem, she can find and use the dog door and she can get into her bed at night. She doesn’t need my help for anything. Sure she bangs into things every now and then but that doesn’t worry her..she just keeps going.

    She still has her second eye but that is causing her a bit of grief. I can tell she is in pain sometimes. So at her next specialist appointment I am going to suggest taking the eye out. There is no sight in it anymore and I’d rather she not be in any pain. It’s a shame because she has such beautiful eyes but I just want her to feel good.

    One thing you need to remember with a dog with glaucoma is to not miss the drops. Even if you miss one drop in the morning, for instance, by the time the afternoon hits they could have a pressure spike and with each pressure spike they can lose more sight.

    You will get through this Debra, I can guarantee it and by the end of it, you’ll be wondering why you were so worried.

    And by the way, I had to laugh at the ‘Miss Stinky’ reference because that is what I call my dog as well…LOL.

    Stay in touch Debra. I will help you through it.

  3. Ailish

    My Beautiful four year old Oscar has just been diagnosed with Glaucoma. His left eye seems to be blind and we are treating him with Maxitrol, Trusopt, Travatan, pain meds and Blood pressure tablets. he seems to be in much better form. i have cried for four days solid at this point and cannot accept the fact that he might lose his beautiful eye. I am so thoroughly devastated. reading your stories is a help and I am sure you feel about your baby’s the way I do about my sweet darling Oscar. he is my world. I am still praying that they can save the eye. I am so sad. It is breaking my heart. We are treating the Good eye with Travatan to prevent glaucoma in the other eye. Please say a prayer for him.

      1. Ailish

        Thank you very much. It is great to have this site. I will Read all of the others. I Hope that your little one is doing ok and wish you both a long a happy life together. X

  4. Deena

    My little blond baby P.J. (cocker spaniel almost 5 yrs old) was diagnosed Monday night with primary glaucoma. I looked at it initially like a death sentence. I was traumatized and spent the first day crying pretty much non stop as the vet told us that eventually it would hit the other eye. She said it could be fast or slow. There are no guaranteed time lengths. She has beautiful brown eyes. She gets 3 different drops right now to try and control it. And takes an anti inflammatory for pain. She seems to be good right now. We caught it fast enough that she’s not blind in the affected eye yet. Ive spent the better part of the last 2 days reading everything and anything I can about glaucoma and the best way to keep P.J.’s sight for as long as possible. Although it will take me awhile to get my head wrapped around this I just want her to be painless and happy. She’s my best buddy and it’s breaking my heart that her eye looks different and is going to fail her anytime. However with every story that I read it does give me a better grasp of things to come and reminds me that she will still be the same dog. I’m so thankful for these types of stories and for my other little guy Rev who people think is her twin but we rescued when he was 9 months just over 2 years ago. They are attached to eachother and I know he will also take care of his sister.
    Thanks for giving me some hope.
    Deena

    1. Paula - ADMIN Post author

      So sorry to hear about your baby. Cocker spaniels have such beautiful eyes so it is hard to see the changes. My girl still has one eye but she is blind in that eye. I am hoping the laser surgery that she had done will allow the eye to stay but even that isn’t a guarantee. I just don’t want her to be in pain so if they eye has to go, so be it.

      Did you read the article on glaucoma (see link below)? It might give you some ideas about treatments particularly the bit about the oral glycerin. It was suggested to me by the eye specialist.

      http://www.blinddogsupport.com/what-happens-when-your-dog-gets-glaucoma-faqs/

  5. Deena

    Thanks Paula!
    I did check it out. I think I will try that and the vitamin c. I have to
    make a call to the specialist tmrw and ask some more questions too.
    I can’t tell you how much I already appreciate this site. I’m pretty sure
    I wouldn’t be handling it even close to this well if not for this place. I thought
    Twice about registering because I said to myself I don’t have a blind dog.
    But… I will. Soon enough. This place made me realize that, so thank you again!

    1. Paula - ADMIN Post author

      It may take a while for your dog to go completely blind and who knows, the second eye may never be affected. But generally if the second eye does go, it will usually happen within 6 months and sometimes up to 18 months.

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