A week after Roxy arrived in December, I took her to our veterinary ophthalmologist at Peak in Burlington, Dr. Sarah Hoy, for a comprehensive eye exam. I also wanted to find out if there was anything Dr. Hoy could do about the corneal scars on each of Roxy’s eyes. That’s Dr. Hoy on the left using a slit lamp (an ophthalmic microscope) while vet tech Marie holds Roxy.
It was clear to us when she first came that Roxy was definitely visual, but she startled easily — presumably because the scar tissue on her corneas created “blind spots” depending on her head and eye movement. Sometimes she would see something, then move her head or eyes, and the object would disappear … and suddenly reappear once she changed her head or eye position. Indeed, from just looking at the scars on her corneas you’d think she was blind — and on her international veterinary health certificate, the vet had listed her as ‘blind.’
Considering Roxy had acid poured on her head, it is simply amazing she has any vision at all. The veterinarian in Aruba did an incredible job of saving Roxy’s eyesight in the aftermath of the attack. Dr. Hoy noted that one of Roxy’s corneas did rupture completely, but healed up. Her right eye is better sighted than the left eye (we couldn’t get a good pupillary light reflex, or “dazzle response,” from the left eye).
It turns out there isn’t anything Dr. Hoy can do to surgically remedy the corneal scarring, but she did find something we definitely needed to know about and to treat. It turns out that the acid had burned away most of the eyelid margins on both eyes, resulting in the loss of almost all of her Meibomian glands. These glands produce a lipid, or oil, that Dr. Hoy said “is a critical component to the tear film to prevent water evaporation off the surface of the eyes.”
Although Roxy still has normal tear production, without the oil produced by the Meibomian glands, the tears that normally keep the eyes moist would evaporate too quickly, leaving her at risk of dry eye. Fortunately the fix is simple: Daily cyclosporine eyedrops for the rest of her life.
Here’s another shot:
Roxy was really timid and nervous at Peak, and spent much of the time sitting in my lap, but she was a wonderful patient. We’ll be doing other diagnostics on her this month.
In the meantime, she has really settled in here, and loves to go running out the door with the other dogs when it’s time for a potty break outside. She’s particularly fond of Daisy and our big Maremma, Aaron. If either of them wants to go outside, she heads out the door with them, trotting alongside. When we come in from doing barn chores, she’s right at the gate in the living room with the rest of the pack, eager to greet us and get some love.
Tonya Allen says
It’s amazing that Roxy has at least some eyesight left, and good that you learned about the lipid deficit so that you could start with eyedrops right away. Hopefully she’ll get used to things appearing and disappearing in her field of vision. Poor Roxy has come through a very hard time, but it’s clear she knows she’s safe forever now. She seems like a really sweet girl.
Nancy E Yarmac says
So this is probably a dumb question. People can get a new lens to replace their corneas can’t they? Is that not done on dogs?