We first saw Lexi on 8/16/13, when her owner brought her in as she was concerned she may have gotten stung. Her owner reported that Lexi’s left eye was swollen and she was trying to scratch it. She was also acting lethargic and not eating as she normally does. Upon examination and after further testing, it was discovered that Lexi had a corneal ulcer in her left eye. We sent her with medication to treat the ulcer and scheduled a follow-up appointment in 4 days to recheck.
A corneal ulcer is a wound on the surface of the eye. The damage would be similar to a scrape or cut on your skin; both problems result in an unprotected wound. The normal cornea is covered by a layer of tissue called the epithelium, sort of like 'skin' over the deeper eye layers. When the epithelium is damaged, infections can occur and result in complete perforation of the eye if left untreated. Clinical signs of a corneal ulcer include: squinting, redness, cloudiness, tearing, and lethargy. A special stain called fluorescein is used to identify the ulcer on the cornea. There are many causes of corneal ulcers such as injuries, abnormal eyelashes that irritate the surface, lack of tear production, infections, and sometimes the exact cause is unknown.
Lexi returned to the office 4 days later and the ulcer was healed. Just 10 days later, Lexi’s owner noticed that she was holding her left eye shut and seemed to be rubbing at it. Our office was not open at the time, so Lexi’s owner took her to Southwest Michigan Animal Emergency Hospital, which cares for all after hour emergencies. Thankfully Lexi’s owner did not wait another day, as there could have been irreversible damage to the eye if she had. It was discovered that Lexi had another corneal ulcer in her left eye. She was told to restart the medication and follow-up in 4 days.
Lexi returned to our office to follow-up a few days later and her owner reported that she was squinting and rubbing at her eye. Upon examination and after testing, she still had an ulcer in that eye and Dr. Prince noticed that there appeared to be something stuck in her eyelid. We sedated Lexi to get a closer look at her eye, and she was found to have numerous sharp, fine particles embedded in the inside upper eyelid. It is suspected that they are possibly plant material, which would make sense as Lexi loves to run through the brush. What had been happening was that the chronic irritation of these particles on the eye was causing the corneal ulcer. Had we not found the particles in the eyelid, she would have likely continued to have chronic irritation to the eye, and likely continued ulcers, which would have resulted in permanent scarring to the cornea.
Lexi is now back to normal and enjoying tearing around the yard. While we cannot prevent something like this from occurring, it is critical to address all eye issues immediately, as Lexi’s owners did. Lexi can thank her owners for helping to keep her eyesight sharp so that she can chase all the critters in the yard each day!