The quick answer to that question is: Yes!
I took our new arrival, blind Millie, to see our veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr. Sarah Hoy, in Burlington last week. As soon as Sarah shined a light into Millie’s eye and I saw her pupil contract, my heart skipped a beat. I knew that meant her retina was still at least partially working, even behind the thick, cataract lens that was detached in her eyeball. But more tests needed to be done to confirm that initial finding.
Sarah did a thorough examination, including using a slit lamp (an ophthalmic microscope) to look into the back of her eye, which is what you see in the photo above.
Here she’s getting another view with a different diagnostic tool while vet tech Angi holds Millie:
Then came the eye pressure check with the Tono-Pen to test for glaucoma:
Her eye pressure was at the high end of normal, which indicates she may be going into early secondary glaucoma, but that in itself did not rule out surgery to restore her vision. More on that in a minute.
Then came the final and most determinant test, the electroretinogram or ERG. I had stepped away during that procedure because I had other dogs at the clinic and was in a different exam room, so I don’t have any photos, but her ERG results for that eye were great!
So later that morning, Sarah told me we could definitely plan on surgery to restore Millie’s eyesight. There are two different things she will do in the course of the surgery. Sarah will remove the luxated (or displaced) lens, which is cloudy from the cataracts, and replace it with a synthetic lens. This means suturing it into place (can you imagine the hand-eye coordination for that?). Because of Millie’s risk for glaucoma, Sarah will also perform a complex procedure called endolaser cyclophotocoagulation, in which she uses a tiny endoscopic laser to destroy a part of the ciliary tissue that produces the aqueous humor (i.e., internal eye fluid).
Since it is an excess of aqueous humor building up inside the eye that causes glaucoma, by reducing the production of the fluid, this procedure reduces the risk of Millie developing glaucoma later.
This is as complicated as it sounds, and Millie will need to stay in the hospital for several days for close post-op monitoring by Sarah and her ophthalmology team. The surgery is scheduled for early September.
If all goes well, Millie will come home with her vision restored, and she will be able to see for the first time in years!