Dandelion (formerly named Baileys) the Shih Tzu was bought from a petshop as a puppy. When she developed pneumonia and severe ulceration of her left cornea, her family wanted to give her up to a shelter.
One night, Baileys could hardly move & was rushed to Mount Pleasant After Hours Emergency Clinic. Baileys’ family did not want her anymore. Thankfully, she was adopted by Ms Wong Fang Juin & for a new beginning, renamed Dandelion.
The cornea is the outermost covering of the eye. Corneal ulcers are painful wounds to one or more layers of the cornea. They are often caused by abrasions or scratches. Read more about corneal ulcers here.
Other causes of corneal ulcers include:
- entropion (rolling in of eyelashes)
- ectopic cilia (abnormal eyelashes rubbing on cornea)
- keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eyes)
When deep ulcers cause scarring or perforation of the cornea, the eye may need to be surgically removed. The eye may also need to be removed due to other conditions like:
- uncontrolled painful glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye)
- severe trauma or injury (puncture or perforation of eyeball)
- cancer of the eye
The surgical removal of an eyeball is called enucleation.
Brachycephalic breeds like Shih Tzus, Pekingeses, Bulldogs & Persian cats are more vulnerable to corneal damage due to their flat faces, shallow eye sockets & prominent eyes.
Symptoms of corneal ulcers include:
- red or watery eyes
- eye discharge
- rubbing eyes with paws (which causes further trauma)
Another Shih Tzu, Emma, was rescued from a breeding farm 3 years ago. Due to deplorable conditions & lack of veterinary care, dogs like Emma live with various health issues left unattended. You can see the extent of scarring on her right cornea. There is no reflex to light or objects.
Dr Heng Yee Ling, Mount Pleasant Animal Medical Centre (Farrer), examined Emma. Her left eyeball has already ruptured & shrivelled up. Due to increasing intraocular pressure in her right eye, Emma later went through enucleation to remove both eye balls.
(Dandelion) In surgery, the eye is removed & the eyelids are permanently sutured closed. An Elizabethan collar should be put on to prevent rubbing or scratching of the area. The stitches are removed 10 to 14 days post-surgery.
(Emma) There will be swelling and bruising of the eye area which will subside with time. Some owners will choose to have a sterile prosthetic sphere inserted into the eye socket (orbit) mainly for cosmetic reasons. It is not recommended for patients with eye infections, cancer or very shallow eye sockets.
Over time, the swelling will subside & the socket will flatten out. Hair will grow back over the area.
Pets like Emma will need some time to adjust to their blindness & learn to find their way around. Avoid startling them. Be patient & let them know you are approaching by calling their names or lightly clapping your hands. Cats who have gone through enucleation should be kept as indoor pets.
LOSING AN EYE OR TWO doesn’t seem to matter much to Dandelion, Mei Mei or Emma. Life goes on for them, happily, one day at a time!
“Dandelion adapted well. She doesn’t seem to know that she has lost an eye.” ~ Ms Wong
“I have adopted another Shih Tzu, Yuki, 13 years old She is also blind in her left eye like Dandelion.” ~ Ms Wong
“If you have blind dogs, you should not have too much furniture in the house. Avoid moving the furniture around.” ~ Ms Wong
Most blind dogs and cats learn to form a mental map of their environment. Help them adjust with the following tips:
- Keep your blind pets safe in smaller areas until they are more comfortable to explore.
- Remove extra furniture or potentially hazardous objects.
- Keep the layout of your house constant. Avoid moving furniture around.
- Leave food, water bowls and litter trays (for cats) at the same place.
- Water fountains may be helpful. Your pets can hear and locate the water source more easily.
- Use scent markers or tactile clues (floor mats) at certain areas.
- Before petting or picking up your blind pets, let them know you are approaching by calling their names or clapping your hands.
- Create a quiet and safe spot where your blind pets can retreat.
Mei Mei the one-eyed Pekingese. Her enucleation was performed by Dr Sandhya Nair, Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (North).
Emma may not be able to see the world but she is having a wonderful life with Florence Bong. We are inspired by adopters who go beyond looks & age when it comes to adopting a best friend. Emma was 8 years old when Florence gave her a home.
Emma is a very spunky gal with a hearty appetite & good sense of humour. Watch the video of her taking a walk outdoors!