Infected, Ulcerated Eyes: Should You Treat Or Remove Your Pet's Eye?

When a pet has an ulcerated or infected eye, a veterinarian will usually present two options: either attempting to treat it or removing it entirely. Though the idea of removing a pet's eye could seem to be drastic, there is actually some merit to it. Benefits and drawbacks will have to be carefully considered before the decision is made. Here is some advice on what might necessitate your actions:

When Should You Treat an Eye?

Eye infections are fairly common in pets. If it is caught early enough, it should be able to be treated with either antibiotics or eye drops. Unless an eye infection is very serious, treatment is usually the recommended course of action. Most pets will not have to lose an eye over a simple infection.

It's when an eye infection leads to an ulcer that it becomes more of a problem. A shallow ulcer can usually be treated and heal over time, but it requires a lot of maintenance. A deeper ulcer may not be able to be treated and may need immediate repair. This is because an ulcer can lead to the eye itself rupturing, which is something that can usually not be fixed.

When Should You Remove an Eye?

Removal of an eye is almost always recommended if the pet is going to lose vision in that eye regardless. An eye that does not work is there primarily for aesthetic purposes. If it is suffering from infection or damage, it will cause the pet pain without actually giving it any function.

There are certain breeds that are simply predisposed towards eye problems, such as bug-eyed breeds. If your pet is a Persian cat or a Boston terrier, for instance, it's more likely to experience an eye issue from time to time. And there are certain pets that are predisposed to eye problems: you may find that you're dealing with an eye infection on a regular, recurring basis. In these situations, removal of the eye is likely to lead to less discomfort and suffering for your pet overall. Investing in treatment will only cost you more time and money while not reducing the likelihood that your pet will experience these problems again.

In general, treatment is always tried first -- but if the treatment doesn't seem to be working or the problem is likely to occur, you may need to bite the bullet and simply remove the eye. The good news is that most pets react very well to losing an eye and some of them don't even notice it at all.

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