My Sweet Baby Blind Eye


HugoEveryone laughs at the irony of our story. After years of working in dog rescue, I decided I would buy a puppy. I’d always loved Bouviers, so I did all the research and found a sweet little Bouvie puppy that I brought home at 8 weeks old.

His name is Hugo. He is brindle, and at 4 months, he is a 45lb mass of hair and teeth.

When we were outside one day I noticed his eye was slightly cloudy. JUST cloudy. He didn’t squint or paw at it, there was no discharge, no signs of pain or discomfort, but having been in rescue, I recognized it as glaucoma and took him to the University Vet Hospital where he was seen by their team of canine opthamologists.

They diagnosed him with Primary Glaucoma. He was just about 4 months old.

Dr Thomas Chen DVM, MS, DipACVO wrote the following:

“On examination of the left eye, we diagnosed Hugo with Glaucoma, a complete retinal detachment, anterior uveitis, and lens abnormalities (cataract, subluxation). This constellation of signs in a dog with Hugo’s history is strongly suggestive of congenital or developmental abnormalities. The right eye, in addition, has multifocal retinal folds consistent with retinal dysplasia. My suspicion is that Hugo had more severe (compared to the right eye) retinal dysplasia in the left eye that resulted in a detachment. The detachment in combination with the changes in the lens have resulted in this eye being blind and a risk for future glaucoma”.

We left with two different eye drops that had to be given throughout the day, and a stunned hollow feeling – the kind you get when you know your life has just been radically changed – that you’re on some strange, new and challenging path that you never ever anticipated.

HugoSo here we are. It’s been a few weeks since our initial visit, and I feel hopeful. Everyone seems to think he will undoubtedly go blind in both eyes before he is a year old, and they might be right, but I feel optimistic. Hugo might lose vision in both eyes, but for right now he can see with his right eye. He is not in pain. He runs and plays and rolls and acts every bit his age, which is great but difficult when it comes to the drops. I wish there were an oral medication that I could give him, but I don’t know of one yet.

I also feel hopeful because he is young, and he is learning to adjust early. Throughout the day when I’m with him, I try to teach him commands that will be useful if/when he loses vision in the other eye – all those words like STEP DOWN, STOP, BACK UP, etc. And I have the chance to read everything I can get my hands on and embrace all sorts of modalities for treatment and prevention – everything from herbal supplements like bilberry to acupuncture, aromatherapy and more.

The irony of the situation is priceless I think, because not ONLY is Hugo the only purebred dog I have ever bought, (I had always felt uncomfortable about buying purebreds because of all the congenital health problems), but I also have an older dog named Opie who came to me with one eye. He belonged to a hoarder in his past life and developed an eye infection that was too far advanced to fix with medication. So Opie has always been my supremely awesome one eyed dog. He’s an Akita – Boxer – Pit mix and has the personality that reminds me of Scrooge once he sees the ghost of Christmas Future.

HugoSo now with Hugo, I like to think that between the two dogs, they have one complete set of vision. I like to keep things light, but I can’t help but to wonder what greater meaning this has. I plan to take Hugo through the training that would allow me to take him into hospitals. Perhaps he could visit children with vision problems. His hair is so soft and long and he doesn’t shed, so I can imagine the kids rolling all over the bed with him as they feel their way around his massive, fluffy body. I’d like this. I think he would too. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I would like it even more if he could maintain vision in his other eye, if for no other reason than because it somehow seems unfair for a puppy to be going through all this.

But, here we are. And as I write this, things are stable. I’d love to know of any tips or tricks, cures, supplements, voodoo or spells that I could conjure to make him better. I figure it never hurts to try 🙂

I look forward to hearing from you all and reading your stories. Thanks so much for letting us be part of your group!

2 thoughts on “My Sweet Baby Blind Eye

  1. We have a beagle that got glaucoma at six. He was already almost blind in one eye by the time we found it. We used a variety of drops anywhere from two to four times a day. He eventually went blind in the first eye, then about a year later, blind in the other one. After a while, the drops only work for about 4 hrs. before pressure becomes real high, and we decided it would be better to remove the eyes, since there was no chance of him seeing again. We did have them removed. He is now 10 and gets along real well. He mapped out the house and back yard and can walk around them very well, only occasionally running into something. He also walks around the neighborhood and has learned it fairly well. Overall, he is a happy dog. It was hard for all concerned to adjust, but we got it done. A book that helped a lot is called Living With Blind Dogs by Caroline Levin. When he first went blind he was very anxious and needed extra attention to get him to calm down. After a few months of that, things settled. Now we’ve all learned, and get along well.

  2. I have a blind Cocker female no thanks to rapid onset Glaucoma. She’s doing great. She was 5 when she lost one eye to the disease, and 12 when the other eye went on her.

    Initially, she became very clingy. She had to have physical contact with me and would walk around bumping into things until she found me to lay next to me. It took her about 3 months to stop the constant bumping into objects. She knew the layout as it has been her home since she was a puppy, but without vision she had to map out things in her head. I also have throw carpeting and wood floor and carpet floor so she can sense floor differences in her paws and that helps her navigate.

    She is still a bit clingy after 2 years of blindness but is adjusting and often goes to the other end of the couch or bed to sleep. To me this is a good sign as she’s confident about her surroundings and no longer fears that the pack is going to abandon her. I think that was her initial fear when she went totally blind. She was afraid the pack would move on and she’d be lost in the dark. Never worry my sweet baby. I’ll always be here for you. I think she knows that.

    I’m surprised how much I love this little girl. She’s more like a daughter than a dog, especially because she now really depends on me. I treat her like the angel she is and pamper her. I’ll be a mess when she leaves me, but will not hesitate to have another blind dog. They can be wonderful, and they need you.

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