The cornea is the outermost surface of the eye. Injury and damage to the cornea can occur from a variety of reasons. These include injuries from other animals such as a cat scratch, from trauma, from constant irritation due to foreign material in eyes, excess eyelashes, rolled in eyelids, or other medical conditions such as “dry eye” when there is a problem with the eye’s tear production.
Once damaged, the injury to the cornea can be quite painful often seen by the animal squinting, rubbing at the eye, or even having the eye closed.
On assessment, the vet will likely use a orange stain called fluorescein which will show up any corneal ulcer or damage as a green stain.
Depending on the severity of the damage, it may be possible to treat the pet as an outpatient, or further surgical treatment as a procedure called a third eyelid flap may be utilised. This involves suturing the third eyelid- which is a thin flap of tissue that can be drawn across the entire eye and sutured into place. This helps protect the corneal wound and nourishes the wound as it heals. If there are pre existing conditions, these will need to be addressed as well.
In more severe cases, we may need to refer the patient to an eye specialist for more advanced techniques for repair.
It is important that any medication provided by the vet is given according to instructions- these help with pain, inflammation and controls risk of infection. In many cases, a cone/Elizabethan collar will be recommended to stop the pet rubbing and scratching at the eye thus resulting in further damage.
It is important that any possible eye injuries are assessed as soon as possible. If untreated, the ulcer can worsen by getting large and deeper. Deep ulcers have a potential then to cause severe irreparable damage to the eye such as a rupture of the eye. Even after treatment has commenced, any rechecks specified should be undertaken on time.