You’re used to seeing your dog’s precious face and his warm, loving eyes. They look OK, but then suddenly they look different. What is it? Has one of your dog’s eyes started looking in a different direction? If so, then may indicate he’s developed an eye condition called lazy eye.
We’ve put together information about lazy eye, how it’s treated, and more. Let’s get started!
What is Lazy Eye?
Lazy eye is a condition called strabismus in dogs. It’s similar to a condition that we can also develop, such as crossed eyes. This is rare in dogs; however, some dog breeds are prone to this condition.
When a dog develops this condition, you may notice that his eyes don’t watch objects together. Instead, one eye may go off in a different direction. While this can appear unsettling, the dog is not in pain or discomfort in most cases. However, it’s essential to determine what has caused lazy eye.
What Happens to Eye Muscles with Strabismus?
Mammals have six muscles that control eye movement, including:
- Rectus muscles: these include the inferior, superior, medial and lateral. These muscles move the eyes up and down and from side to side.
- Oblique muscles: these include the inferior and superior oblique muscles. They allow the eyes to move in a circular motion.
- Retractor muscles: these muscles make it possible for the eyelids to move.
When all of these muscles are working as they should, the dog’s eyes work like normal! The eyes move in the same direction at the same time. However, when one or more of these muscles develops a problem, it can result in a lazy eye. If the retractor muscles have a problem, the dog may develop a lazy eyelid.
A lazy eye can be classified in the following ways, based on the type of misalignment:
- Divergent: the eye is toward the edge of the face
- Hypotropia: the eye stays pointed downward
- Hypertropia: the eye stays pointed upwards
- Convergent: the eye points toward the nose
Symptoms of Lazy Eye in Dogs
You may notice these symptoms if your dog develops lazy eye:
- One or both eyes are affected
- Difficult focusing both eyes on the same object
- Controlling one eye and losing control of the other
How Does Lazy Eye Develop in Dogs?
There are several factors that can cause lazy eye in dogs, including the following:
It’s possible that a dog’s lazy eye condition has been inherited from his parents. Some dog breeds are more prone to this condition, including:
- Golden Retriever
- Irish Wolfhound
- Boston Terriers
Injury to the Eye
Injuries can cause nerve damage that affects the muscles in his eyes. The injuries that can lead to lazy eye can include:
- Injuries to the head
- Eye trauma
- Car accidents
If a dog develops issues with his vestibular system this can lead to lazy eye. The vestibular system is located in the brain, the inner and middle ear. The system controls balance; if a dog develops vestibular problems, he may become dizzy and not be able to walk in a straight line.
Vestibular system issues may cause the following symptoms:
- Head tilt
- Falling over
- Jerking eye movements
This condition can be caused by trauma, hypothyroidism, tumors, inner ear infections, damage to the skull, and even side effects to antibiotics. There’s also a version of this condition called an idiopathic vestibular syndrome. This means there’s no known cause of the condition. It appears apparently out of nowhere.
This is another condition that can cause lazy eye. This condition can be found in adults but is more common in puppies. Hydrocephalus is a condition that causes fluid buildup in the brain. The condition is common in some dog breeds, including:
- Carin Terrier
- Lhasa Apso
- Boston Terrier
- English Bulldog
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Toy Poodle
The problem is that the excess amount of fluid in the brain puts pressure on the eyes. This can lead to lazy eye.
How is Lazy Eye Treated in Dogs?
There are different ways lazy eye can be treated in dogs.
Treatment depends on what’s caused the condition. However, if the lazy eye is inherited and there are no underlying health conditions, then the vet may prescribe exercises. These exercises work to strengthen the eye muscles.
One exercise involves holding a finger in front of your dog’s face, then moving the finger toward his nose. That’s it! You and your dog can do this exercise at any time. However, it can take time for exercises to work. So, you’ll need to have patience as your dog’s eyes strengthen.
2. Treatment of Injuries
When an injury causes lazy eye, the vet must first take care of the injury. Then they can consider how to best treat the dog’s lazy eye.
If your dog has some vestibular issues, they may prescribe anti-inflammatories to help cure the problem. Sometimes the lazy eye may be cured by immediate care of the injury that’s caused it.
3. Periodic Monitoring
Whether your dog is prone to inherited lazy eye or has developed the condition in the past, monitoring his eyes can help spot the problem if it appears again. You can also ask the vet to check your fur baby’s eyes during regular checkups.
4. Treating Underlying Disease
If an underlying health issue has caused lazy eye, then the first step is to treat this condition as soon as possible. Treatments depend on the severity of the problem. For example, fluid in the brain caused by hydrocephalus must first be drained. The vet may prescribe anti-inflammatories or water pills to reduce the fluid.
If the condition is left untreated, it’s possible the damage to the eye muscles may require surgery.
Summing It Up
If you believe your dog is suffering from lazy eye, then it’s necessary to make an appointment with the vet. The vet may be able to find the underlying cause and treat it using medications. This can sometimes alleviate the symptoms and cure lazy eye. However, there are times when surgery may be required. Only a vet can make these determinations.
So, be sure to get your fur baby to the vet if you notice one of his eyes looking in one direction and his other eye looking in a completely different direction!