Just as older people can develop problems with their eyesight, so can your ageing pets. Even younger pets can suddenly start having difficulty seeing, and at the first sign that something isn’t right, you must take your pet to your veterinary clinic for testing. Failing eyesight, particularly in mature pets, isn’t always a sign of old age. In some cases, it can be the symptom of underlying health issues that need to be addressed as soon as possible.
Spotting the Signs
Pets are proficient at adapting to situations especially if they happen gradually like fading eyesight. Vision isn’t your pet’s most important sense, and many vision problems can be overcome and overlooked because your pet’s superior hearing and sense of smell mean they’ll still act normal. There can be some obvious signs such as the cloudy appearance of cataracts, although there is a condition called nuclear sclerosis that can look like cataracts but doesn’t affect vision unless it’s severe.
If your pet’s eyes are a concern, see your veterinarian for professional advice. You can easily test your pet’s vision by holding your hand in front of their face and quickly moving it closer to see if they blink. Be careful not to alarm your pet or cause them any stress. If your pet doesn’t blink it’s a pretty good indication that their eyesight isn’t what it used to be.
You may notice unusual behaviour in your pet such as becoming extra clingy or aggressive, or avoiding eye contact with you. Of course, there can be more obvious signs like running into things or being less active, but pets really can adapt very well, and you may not notice anything until your pet is almost or completely blind.
Causes of Failing Eyesight
There are many causes of failing eyesight in pets, especially as they get older. Just like people, they can suffer from macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts – especially when diabetes is present. High blood pressure can cause blindness if left untreated, as can eye infections and some forms of cancer. Trauma to the eyes, brain disease, and retinol detachment can all cause total or partial blindness in pets of any age.
It’s important to take your pet for regular check-ups at your animal clinic and to increase the regularity as they become older and are more prone to health issues.
Helping your Pet Deal with Vision Loss
If you’ve taken your pet to their local veterinary but their failing vision has become a fact of life, there are ways to help them cope:
- Keep sharp and dangerous objects out of the way, inside and in the yard
- Always put their food and water bowls in the same place
- Have a safe zone where they can relax and feel secure
- Speak to them often in a reassuring tone
- Keep to a regular routine
- Don’t rearrange the furniture or place objects in your pet’s regular pathways
- Block off stairs and balconies to prevent falls
- Try to avoid new and stressful situations, and constantly reassure your pet with voice and touch if they do have a change of routine
Specialist Veterinary Services in Sydney
If you have any concerns around blindness in your pets, speak to our specialist vets at Sydney Veterinary Emergency & Specialists today. Book an appointment from Monday to Friday 8:30am-6pm or contact us for emergency and after-hours care. Call us on (02) 9197 5800, contact us online or learn more about our services.