Leah’s Eyes

Leah is our 1 year old terrier mix. At about 8-9 months old she started having problems with her eyes. It started with an occasional squint and a wink of her left eye. Then her eyes started to turn cloudy blue. Could our sweet puppy be getting cataracts?

To the vet! I really like the new vet at our local animal clinic. She seems to be a good balance of knowledgeable but kind. (None of our vets are mean. But a kind woman can be less intimidating than a cowboy.) She informed me that squinting is a sign of pain. We went home with antibiotics and steroids and instructions to keep Leah calm. For over two weeks I tried to turn a very energetic puppy into a couch potato and gave her eyedrops every 4 hours. She did pretty good!

I was so relieved to finally see Leah’s eyes clearing up. Until she ran into the coffee table with her good eye. Yet another trip to the vet’s office (we had been going every few days so they could monitor her progress.) They had me start putting drops in her other eye too.

Blind Doggy Alert The next week brought a few unsettling moments where it seemed as if Leah went totally blind. They just lasted a couple of minutes. She missed a step and did a faceplant at my boss’s house. She ran into my daughter’s dresser. And she had no reaction to me waving my hand in front of her face.

Multiple vets examined her. They did blood work and consulted with an ophthalmologist. It was decided to continue with the eyedrops a couple more weeks then try to wean her off of them.

Uneven Pupils? I went into one checkup particularly optimistic. We had cut her eyedrops in half and the cloudiness seemed to be slowly fading. Then the vet pointed out that her pupils were uneven. This too could be a sign of pain, but she wasn’t really acting like it hurt. There was another consult with the ophthalmologist who said he has never seen anything like it. Her blood work was good. She didn’t seem to be in any pain. We decided to cut the eyedrops back to twice a day and watch for changes.

Eyedrops twice a day seemed to be holding things steady. No getting better, but no improvement either. So we cut back to once a day … Back came the cloudiness! And back up to 2 drops a day we went.

She can’t take eyedrops forever By this point the vet had expressed concern about the long-term effects of using steroid eyedrops multiple times. We tried one more time to cut back to once a day eyedrops. I saw a little cloudiness come back over the weekend, but it was clearing up by the time the clinic opened Monday morning, so I stuck with the once a day eyedrops a few more weeks.

Is it time? Leah has been using steroid eyedrops for 3 months now. Her appetite has increased. She is getting heavier and less playful. I would say a 6 on the 1-9 body condition chart. (making her slightly overweight) Our favorite veterinarian is getting increasingly worried about the effects of long-term steroid use. We have decided it is time to take Leah off of her eyedrops. If she does well, we will be prepared to face the possibility of her having vision problems earlier than the average dog. If her eyes get cloudy, we will make an appointment with the ophthalmologist. Unfortunately, any real testing or treatment will probably be out of my budget.

2 Days in – Getting cloudy 🙁 Leah has gone two days without her eyedrops. Her left eye is starting to get cloudy again. I need to switch her from puppy chow to an adult dog food. I asked the clinic to suggest something I can pick up at our local WalMart in hopes that better nutrition will give her eyes that extra boost. They said Iams, Purina One, or Purina Pro Plan would be my best options. … These foods are more expensive. But considering I have already put well over $600 into vet bills this year, a few extra dollars for higher quality dog food doesn’t sound that bad.

I chose Purina One SmartBlend Lamb & Rice Formula. An 8 pound bag was about $12.50, compared to $8.50 for regular dog chow. I have heard dogs don’t need to eat as much when the food is better quality, so I really don’t expect to notice much difference in budget.

Wish us luck! I hope we don’t have to put Leah (or my wallet) through the stress of a trip to the eye doctor.