Let’s face it; the eye is a very vulnerable organ. In spite of protective eyelids (in many species there are three) injuries and diseases occur often. Of course, a working (dog or horse) fares badly if the eye function is impaired.

On the other hand, a house pet can be even blind, yet enjoy quite a happy existence in the house. Livestock could have defective vision, yet are quite valuable for reproductive purposes on the farm. If an animal has to forage for its food, reduced vision capability would be a great handicap.

Conjunctivitis

This is inflammation of the membrane that covers the inner sides of the eyelids and part of the surface of the eyeball. Actually, although this condition is quite common, it is not, in itself, a big problem. However, an occurrence of conjunctivitis can lead to a greater malady such as an ulceration of the cornea which could result in permanent blindness.

Not all conjunctivitis cases are very serious – at least not at the beginning. If the discharge is just watery and clear, the cause is usually a physical irritant. However, once pus is involved, one has to think of a bacterial infection. The important thing is to ensure that the conjunctivitis problem does not become long lasting (chronic).
Causes of

conjunctivitis

1. Mechanical trauma (a hit; the presence of foreign bodies, like dust, sand, pollen grains, grass seeds, etc)

2. Caustic chemicals – solid liquid or gaseous − which create irriation

3. Bacteria. (In the cat, for example, there are two known specific infections of the eye. In fact, they are both transmissible to humans.)

4. The consequences of another disease. Conjunctivitis can be the result of tuberculosis, or it may occur during the course of other diseases, for example canine distemper and feline ‘influenza’ (Rhinotracheitis) spring to mind.

5. Burdens of flies, worms and ticks are often implicated in episodes of conjunctivitis.

Symptoms of conjunctivitis

First signs:

Redness

Swelling of the eyelids

Increased lacrimation (tears)

Photophobia (shying away from light, keeping the eyelids shut)

Don’t let it get worse. At this stage (when the symptoms are exhibiting themselves), let us begin to aggressively fight the disease.

Later on (12 hours later), the above-mentioned symptoms will become more aggravated and the discharge will become less watery and more sticky. Later still, as the bacteria multiply or invade secondarily, there is a whitish-yellowish (purulent) discharge which may even blister the skin of the face down which it trickles. The hair in this area is pasted together.

Treatment

• Clean away the discharge with clean water or a commercial eye lotion. One could add a small touch of baking soda to the water.

• Irrigate the eyeball with warm water (which was sterilized by boiling) or a dilute solution of boric acid. Any pharmacy can prepare this, and you do not need a prescription. You may of course purchase an antiseptic eye lotion.

(May I suggest that you can boil some cotton wool in the water to which you will add the pinch of baking soda. Squeeze the cotton wool above the eye, so that the drops fall into the eye. (See method of opening the eye in the Pet Corner of December 14, 2008).

If, for whatever reason, the treatment (described above) does not work, and you can’t control the pussy discharge, then it is time to see your veterinarian – pronto.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals. Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.