Ocular trauma is one of the most common types of injuries seen in pets. Eye injuries can be caused in a variety of ways, from too-rough play sessions to an outdoor fall. Not all eye injuries are obvious, but rapid blinking, squinting, or pawing at the face can be signs of ocular trauma.
Young, rambunctious pets are most likely to suffer eye injuries; the symptoms of the injury dictate how serious it really is and the kind of treatment necessary.
0-30 minutes in: Mild or Serious?
Your pet’s eye is one of the most vulnerable spots on their body. You’ll know pretty quickly whether or not the trauma is serious. If you see any of the following signs, rush your pet to the closest emergency veterinarian.
- Extreme pain and/or refusal to allow the area to be examined
- Discharge, blood, or other fluids oozing from the eye
- Changes in color in any part of the eye
- Displacement of the eye within the socket
- Bleeding within the eyeball itself
- Abnormalities in eye shape and/or extreme swelling
- Lethargy, lack of appetite, lack of thirst
If your pet doesn’t seem to be in immediate distress, it’s probably fine to watch them closely over the next couple of hours to see how their symptoms develop. Remember that the eye is one of the fastest-healing parts of the body and that mild injuries to the area often resolve on their own.
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30-60 minutes in: Note the Symptoms
In short order, you’ll be able to tell whether your pet’s eye injury is becoming more painful or less. If you have any indication your pet is in serious pain, losing vision, or if your pet won’t stop trying to paw at their eye, it’s best to head to the nearest veterinary clinic.
Mild blunt force eye injuries can result in minor swelling and tenderness around the eye area with no major changes to the color or structure of the eye itself. Mild sharp injuries tend to be more acute and can result in laceration or abrasion of the eyelids, cornea, conjunctiva, or sclera.
At this point, you’ll want to call your regular veterinarian to let them know what’s going on with your dog. In cases of sharp injuries, they may want to prescribe antibiotic eye drops to ward off any infection. In suspected blunt force injuries, your vet may even want to perform x-rays and a full examination to be sure your pet’s not suffering from head injuries.
1 – 2 hours in: Listen to the Vet
If you’ve taken your pet to an emergency clinic you’ll have been given clear instructions for treatment. The attending veterinarian will perform diagnostic testing, imaging, and dyeing to best determine next-steps. Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment may include anything from surgery to removal of the eye. Particularly complex cases may be referred to a veterinary ophthalmologist.
In a majority of cases, your pet will be treated with medication and behavioral modification. Antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and analgesics are commonly prescribed in the wake of an eye injury. Your pet will almost certainly be given an E-collar to keep them from re-injuring the eye while it heals.