New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
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Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA

Common Eye Conditions & Procedures

Whether you have a dog or cat, there are common eye conditions you'll need to watch out for. And you should know that Penn Vet's Ophthalmology service at Ryan Hospital can handle the toughest and most challenging ophthalmic conditions without breaking a sweat. With senior boarded faculty specialists on our team, we can meet the toughest challenges. 

Feline eye, Penn Vet


Dogs, cats, and other companion animals can suffer from a variety of ophthalmic conditions. Here is a list of some common problems we treat:

  • Cataracts

    cataractsCataracts appear as cloudy or opaque areas in the lens. If cataracts are severe, vision is usually impaired and cataract surgery to restore vision may be possible.

  • Conjunctivitis

    Conjunctivitis describes inflammation of the conjunctiva, or the outermost layer of the eye and inner surface of the eyelids. In dogs this is most often because of allergy or tear film disorders.  In the cat, infectious causes of conjunctivitis are common.

  • Corneal Ulcer

    corneal ulcerA corneal ulcer is a wound or abrasion in the surface tissues of the eye. Corneal ulcers are usually painful. In deep or infected ulcers, aggressive medical treatment or surgical grafting procedures may be necessary to save the eye and vision. For superficial ulcers, corneal debridement procedures (e.g. grid keratotomy, diamond burr debridement) may be required to encourage healing.

  • Distichia

    distichiaDistichia are hairs that arise from glands with the eyelids. These aberrant hairs may lead to ocular surface irritation and corneal ulceration. Removal or the hair and its follicle with cautery or cryotherapy is generally recommended.

  • Entropion

    entropionEntropion describes an eye disorder in which the eyelid turns inwards towards the ocular surface. The cornea may become irritated from the constant abrasion of eyelashes or haired skin. Surgical correction of the condition is usually recommended.

  • Eyelid Tumors

    eyelid tumorWhile many eyelid tumors in the dog are considered benign cancers, those that occupy a large proportion of the eyelid, should be surgically removed. Even small tumors can cause irritation to the ocular surface and surgery may be recommended.

  • Feline Herpesvirus

    feline herpesvirusFeline herpesvirus is one of the most common causes of upper respiratory infection in cats. Ocular disease such as conjunctivitis and corneal ulceration is common following infection.

  • Glaucoma

    glaucomaGlaucoma is an increase in pressure inside the eye which, if uncontrolled, will lead to damage of the optic nerve and retina; blindness may result. Many dog breeds are predisposed to glaucoma (primary glaucoma). However, ocular disease such as uveitis, cancer in the eye, and lens disease can also lead to glaucoma (secondary glaucoma).

  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS or Dry Eye)

    KCSKCS involves inflammation of the surface of the eye caused by decreased tear production.  This is a very common disease in dogs and may involve one or both eyes. The condition requires long term medical management.

  • Prolapsed Gland of the Third Eyelid

    cherry eyeAlso known as Cherry Eye, a prolapsed gland of the third eyelid is common in many breeds of dogs.  As the third eyelid and its gland are responsible for a healthy tear film, surgical replacement of the gland is strongly recommended in order to protect the surface of the eye long term.

  • Retinal Detachment

    Detachment of the retina can be spontaneous, result from surgery in the eye or can be associated with other ocular or systemic disease. When the entire retina is detached, vision is lost. Blindness can be permanent unless treatment to reattach the retina is started promptly.

  • Retinal Disease

    PRADisease of the retina include conditions such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) or Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration (SARD).  Retinal disease often leads to vision problems.

  • Sudden Loss of Vision

    Blindness can result from ocular disease as well as disease in the brain. Sudden, severe visual impairment, especially in the face of an otherwise normal ocular examination, may require additional testing e.g. electroretinography or advanced imaging to determine the specific cause of the blindness.

  • Uveitis

    Uveitis is inflammation in the eye; usually caused by trauma, infection, cancer or immune-mediated disease. An investigation of the underlying cause is important if an appropriate treatment plan is to be determined.

Penn Vet Ophthalmic Procedures

Penn Vet's Companion Animal Ophthalmology team routinely addresses conditions using the following procedures:

  • Advanced Ocular Imaging
    • biomicroscopyB-Scan Ocular Ultrasound
      • Detection of retinal detachment in eyes with cataract or disease which prevents clear
      • Evaluation of the retina with an ophthalmoscope
    • Diagnosis of intraocular tumors
    • Ultrasound Biomicroscopy: High energy ultrasound examination which provides in vivo, high resolution images of the anterior structures of the eye (cornea, anterior chamber).
    • Fundus Photography: Imaging equipment to record and monitor retinal and optic nerve disease
    • CT /MRI: Imaging the orbit/eye/head under general anesthesia in animals with evidence of orbital disease or neurologic conditions associated with the eye.
  • Cataract Surgery
    • corneal surgeryCataract surgery: Removal of cataracts by high frequency ultrasound (phacoemulsification) to restore vision. When possible, the natural opaque lens is replaced with an artificial lens. Cataract surgery is most commonly performed in dogs although cats, rabbits and birds with cataracts may benefit from surgery.
    • Lens instability or lens luxation surgery: Condition which leads to the detachment of the lens within the eye, often requires surgical removal of the lens to save vision.
  • Corneal Surgery
    • corneal ulcerDiamond burr debridement, grid keratotomy for indolent corneal ulcers and corneal mineralization. Microsurgical repair of corneal ulcer, corneal laceration and eye perforation with the aid of conjunctival, corneal and grafting materials.
    • Keratectomy for corneal sequestrum.
    • Corneal foreign body removal.
    • Thermokeratoplasty for corneal edema, bullous keratopathy.
    • Cryotherapy for the treatment of aberrant cilia (distichia, trichiasis), eye lid tumors and to aid in lens removal in animals with lens luxation.
  • Electro-Diagnostic Procedures
    • Electroretinography: Procedure that measures the electrical responses of different cell types in the retina. Frequently used prior to cataract surgery to evaluate healthy retinal function and in dogs suspected of having Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration (SARDS) causing sudden vision loss.
    • Colorimetric pupillary light reflex device: Evaluation of the retina’s response to high intensity red and blue light. This device can be useful in the diagnosis of dogs suspected of having SARDS.
  • Enucleation

    Surgical removal of the eye: Reserved for eyes that are both blind and painful either from chronic disease, penetrating trauma, intraocular tumor or end-stage glaucoma.

  • Eyelid Reconstruction
    • Surgical correction of breed related lid abnormalities e.g. entropion and ectropion.
    • Reconstructive surgery for eyelid agenesis.
    • Eyelid tumor removal.
    • Repair of eyelids damaged from trauma.
  • Examinations for Breeding Dogs (OFA Eye Certification Registry, CERF)

    Eye certification. Examination by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist for ocular defects presumed to be inherited in pure breed dogs.

  • Glaucoma Surgery

    Application of laser energy (diode Laser) alone or in combination with an anterior chamber shunt for the treatment of dogs with medically refractive glaucoma.

  • Gonioscopy

    The use of a special lens (goniolens) to the evaluate the drainage angle (structure between the cornea and iris). Gonioscopy may also be part of the eye certification (OFA) for breeding dogs at risk for glaucoma.

  • Laser Eye Surgery (Diode Laser)
    • Laser retinopexy: To decrease the risk of retinal detachment.
    • Trans-scleral photocoagulation: For the treatment of medically refractive glaucoma.
    • Trans corneal iridal photocoagulation: Non-invasive treatment of iris tumors and cysts.
  • Retinoscopy/Skiascopy

    The objective determination of refractive error in animals suspected of having myopica (short-sightedness) or hyperopia (long-sightedness). Optimal performance of working dogs may be affected by these conditions.