Mr. Peabody Has Glaucoma - Again...

10 Dec 2004Steve Schwarz

Last year Mr. Peabody was diagnosed with Primary Glaucoma in his left eye. His interocular pressure (IOP) - pressure within the eye - was over 35 mm Hg. The normal range is 15-25 mm Hg. He had started squinting, indicating that his eye was uncomfortable. I won’t recount the details of the two weeks of doctor’s visits and ever increasing glaucoma medication. None of the medication had any significant effect on his IOP. The critical side effect of sustained, elevated IOP is permanent damage to the retina and blindness. After these unsuccessful treatments, tests showed he was permanently blind in that eye. To reduce the pressure and Mr. Peabody’s pain he underwent cyclocryotherapy at Eye Care for Animals in Wheeling, IL. He had secondary corneal infections that were treated and ultimately healed - with some scarring. Cyclocryotherapy leaves the dog with a blind eye but permanently reduces the pressure and pain in the eye.

So for this past year Mr. Peabody has been training and done a little competing with vision in only one eye. Before his glaucoma his eyes both had colobomatous defects of the optic nerve, basically holes in the optic nerve. These holes gave him a patchy view of the world, one he’d had since birth. The vision in his “good” eye is somewhere between 25-50% of normal. But even with one eye he can still grab a Frisbee flying by, clear jumps, and follow my hand signals. The eye doctors have always been amazed at what he can do. One doctor today remarked that it was just because he is so smart that Mr. Peabody can do what he does with his limited vision.

I would never have risked continued training and limited trialing if I thought he was ever in danger. He has always been eager to play Agility and Flyball; barking and squeaking as we get near to practice. But we decided to not have him compete in Flyball anymore to avoid the possibility of collision with another dog, or the timing lights when passing. He still practices with the team as the last dog down the jumps when all is clear. In Agility I can take responsibility for devising a course plan that keeps me and the obstacles in his view and I’ve pulled him from trials and modified practice courses when I felt he wouldn’t be safe. His brother Milo is more likely to injure him by running him into something on his blind side playing in the house.

But now our special little guy has an elevated IOP in his right eye. I knew something wasn’t right this past week and took him in for an eye pressure test today. He is registering at 24 mm Hg which is at the high end of normal, but up from the low teens where he was a couple months ago. So we’ve started on glaucoma medicine again. We’ll re-test his eye pressure on Monday. If it doesn’t drop significantly we’ll have to schedule laser surgery to selectively destroy some fluid producing cells within the eye that are causing the increase in pressure. The best case outcome is that between meds and laser surgery we can get his pressure reduced enough to provide Mr. Peabody with a couple more years of vision. The worst case outcome is that he could be in pain for a few weeks and blind within a month (it is hard for me to even type this).

We’ve been aware that this was a possible outcome, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept. Please keep our beloved Mr. Peabody in your thoughts during these next few weeks. I’ll post updates as we learn more.

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