Eye Ai Ai! An Interesting Case of Unusual Dog Eye Problem

Dr. Baum, Chief of Staff of Center-Sinai Animal Hospital in L.A., writes about a stubborn dog eye problem he encountered. The solution will surprise you, too.

Pet Health Care Articles by Dr. Baum: the solution to this unusual dog eye problem is itself unusual…

Dacryocystitis is an inflammation or infection of the nasolacrimal duct. It is frequently caused by an obstruction of the duct by foreign material. In this case, the patient was a four year old chow (with a predilection for tasting the flesh of veterinarians and their assistants) that presented with reddened weepy eyes. The left eye was particularly inflamed and had a thick, pussy discharge.

After the condition failed to resolve in spite of application of topical eye drops, the decision was made to do a thorough exam of the eye and eyelids with the patient anesthetized. What I discovered was surprising. I had expected to find an extra set of eyelashes rubbing on the cornea, but the eyelids were normal. When I pressed under the eye a stream of pus gushed out of a small opening in the lower eyelid. This opening represented the entrance to a structure called the nasolacrimal duct. This duct is a narrow passageway that allows the tears that lubricate the eyes to drain out into the nose. If this passageway is not functioning due to blockage or swelling or incomplete development, tears would always be streaming down your face. Think of a bathtub where the drain becomes blocked. As water was continually added to the tub, eventually it would overflow.

To rectify the problem, I inserted a small canula (tube) into the duct and flushed it with saline solution. As the fluid exited through the opening in the nose, a small piece of plant material, about the size of a poppy seed, shot out! Problem resolved!

The owner informed me that the dog loved to snoop around in the bushes in the back yard. Apparently while he was rooting around one day, he dislodged a fine seed on one of the bushes and it landed on the surface of his eye, then was washed into the duct by the tears that were produced in reaction to the irritation the foreign material caused.

Here’s looking at you.

Dr . B


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