Although Kate had bred dogs all her life, she had never seen a Siberian Husky with eyes of such a piercing blue as her Sasha’s. She was surprised to note that Sasha’s right eye looked bloodshot early one morning. Kate assumed it was some kind of minor irritation and flushed out the discharge from the eye. However, a few days later, the veterinarian diagnosed Sasha as suffering from hypopyon.
What is Hypopyon in Dogs?
It’s an accumulation of white blood cells in the liquid of the front chamber of a dog’s eye, according to PetPlace.com. Inflamed blood vessels located within the iris (colored part of the eye) and the tissues behind the iris known as the ciliary body release these cells. Vets refer to the inflammation of the iris and the ciliary body as anterior uveitis.
As this leakage slowly accumulates in the front of the dog’s anterior eye chamber, the pet’s eye takes on a cloudy or hazy appearance. Severe inflammations cause large quantities of released material to sink to the bottom of the eye chamber or fill it up due to gravity. In the worst cases of hypopyon in dogs, strands called fibrin accumulate within the eye’s interior chamber.
According to APP.vetconnect.com, hypopyon in dogs is frequently linked to severe keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea, or eye neoplasia such as lymphosarcoma, a type of cancer. However, the disorder occurs in dogs of any age, breed or sex who have severe anterior uveitis due to any cause. For this reason alone, hypopyon in dogs is a symptom of a serious ophthalmic disease.
The condition is frequently the result of bacterial infections. It also results from systemic viral, parasitic, bacterial and protozoal infections affecting the eye and from ulceration of the dog’s cornea.
Owners of a dog with hypopyon typically notice signs that the dog is suffering from pain. The eye usually undergoes a dramatic color change. The result is usually a yellow, cloudy or opaque appearance.
Some affected eyes have a bloodshot appearance, sometimes with a discharge resembling tears, mucous or pus. The eyelids might also be swollen.
The dog might exhibit excessive squinting and blinking. An eye exam can reveal white, gray or dark spots on the back of the cornea. It might be difficult to even view details within the eye of a dog with hypopyon.
The first thing a vet checks for in a suspected case of hypopyon in dogs is a sign of a systemic illness manifesting itself within the dog’s eye. It’s also important to know about any history of treatment for a systemic disease or eye condition.
After testing for conditions such as glaucoma and corneal ulcers, a vet might opt to refer the pet to a veterinary ophthalmologist for an exam using special instruments. Other tests typically administered include a complete blood count (CBC), urinalysis and biochemistry. Serum tests for infections related to a fungus, tick and parasites are also common.
When a vet suspects a dog has hypopyon, it’s customary to begin treatment even while still waiting for the results of particular tests. The initial treatment is an aggressive regimen using topical and systemic antibiotics if the disorder is linked to a corneal ulcer.
When anterior uveitis is the culprit but the dog has no corneal ulcer, topical corticosteroids can reduce inflammation in the iris and ciliary body. Using a topical 1 percent atropine treatment will dilate the pupil of the eye, diminish the chance of adhesions and relieve pain.
Sometimes vets use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin and carprofen orally for uveitis. Oral corticosteroids like prednisone fight inflammations. However, if the dog has a systemic infection of almost any kind or any corneal ulcers, they can’t be used. In some severe cases, dogs with hypopyon develop glaucoma and will be treated for that condition.
An owner who notes any of the signs or symptoms of hypopyon in dogs should quickly contact a vet to schedule an exam of his or her pet. Most of the causes of this disorder can threaten a dog’s vision and require immediate intervention.