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Dog Care: Bleeding Of The Retina

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The retina is located at the back of the eye and is the section of the eye that receives images in the form of light. The retina then sends these images to the brain for processing via nerve signals. The retina is attached to a section at the back of the eye known as the choroid coat. This provides the retina with nutrients and oxygen, but the retina can become separated from this layer. When this happens, bleeding will occur and blood can pool at the back of the retina. If left untreated, bleeding of the retina can cause your dog to experience permanent vision loss. Here's what you need to know about bleeding of the retina in dogs:

Causes And Symptoms

When a dog presents with bleeding of the retina, it's not always possible to identify the cause. However, the condition can be caused by trauma, a bacterial eye infection or blood clotting disorders. Uncontrolled diabetes can also cause retinal bleeding due to high blood glucose levels, which can cause the blood vessels to become inflamed. That inflamation puts pressure on the back wall of the eye.

Although you can't see your dog's retina, there are noticeable signs of this condition to be aware of. The pupil can appear white and may not contract in response to light. Additionally, your dog may show signs of vision loss, such as clumsiness, withdrawal from play and confusion.

Diagnosis And Treatment

Your vet can diagnose bleeding of the retina by examining your dog's eyes with a slit lamp. This is a type of microscope that allows the vet to see right to the back of the eye, and they can take images of the retina. If the build-up of blood is significant and the vet can't get a clear view of the retina, they may carry out an ultrasound to assess the extent of the damage to the retina and surrounding tissue. In order to establish the cause of the bleed, blood and urine tests will be carried out to check for clotting problems, inflammation, raised blood sugar levels and infection.

Treatment is dependent on the underlying cause of the bleeding, but the retina will be surgically repaired to prevent further damage your dog's sight. Antibiotics will be prescribed if a bacterial infection is present, and diet and lifestyle modifications may be recommended if your dog has diabetes. Coagulants can be prescribed for clotting disorders.   

If your dog is displaying any of the symptoms mentioned above, or if you have any concerns about their eye health, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.