Glaucoma is something you would not wish on your worst enemy.
Beautiful Lily, the gentlest of terriers experienced it, but has fought through. She is a delightful pure-bred Sealyham, looking like a West Highland White with floppy ears and a longer body.
I hate glaucoma because it not only causes blindness, but is very painful too.
People with glaucoma experience eye pain and headaches that are so intense they become nauseous. The eye turns red, and becomes very tender. The vision becomes blurred and then is permanently lost. I can only assume that dogs experience all this, although they cannot tell me.
Glaucoma occurs when the pressure in the eyeball is changed, and starts to build up. A person experiencing this would complain early, and be briskly referred for a pressure check. Treatment often saves some of the sight and reduces the pain to manageable levels.
But Lily had no means of communicating her pain, and stoically coped until her sight left her completely from both eyes. For a while the Veterinary Ophthalmologist managed the pressure in her eyeballs, keeping the pain at acceptable levels, but there was nothing she could do to get her sight back.
Lily and her loving owner gradually learned to cope with her disability.
Eighteen months later we reluctantly took the decision that her eyes were hurting her beyond our ability to manage the pain, and that, since they were of no further use to Lily, the kindest option was to let her live without them.
The operation was routine, and the little fighter barely missed a step. Since then her groomer allows her shaggy fringe to hang over her face, so that it is impossible to notice the absence of her eyes.
This all happened four years ago. Now she trots about her village, following her owner’s footsteps and voice in a confident manner. Sometimes she meets new people who simply cannot believe her background. “But she must have some sight!” they say.
But really, she doesn’t. I know, as I removed both of her eyeballs. She is just amazing: using her other senses and the care of her owner to guide her, and finally living without pain.