An ulcer is a discontinuity or break in a bodily membrane that impedes the organ of which that membrane is a part from continuing its normal functions.
The cornea is a clear, thin membrane at the front of the eye. Corneal ulcers occur fairly frequently in pets and are often the result of a scratch from a twig or a fight. Other causes include reduced tear production leading to drying of the eye, infection and anatomical issues.
Whatever the cause, when the layers of the cornea are damaged, the eye becomes inflamed and painful leading to squinting and increased tear production. The surface may appear cloudy and the irritation leads to rubbing of the eye.
Painful or irritated eyes should be examined by a vet. There are a number of different causes leading to similar signs that require different treatments. Corneal ulcers are diagnosed by putting a special dye in the eye that adheres to damaged surfaces and once diagnosed, treatment is started.
Treatment of Corneal Ulcers
For superficial abrasions, antibiotic eye drops, pain medication and an e-collar are often all that is required and healing usually takes 3 to 5 days. For deeper or more serious ulcers, surgery and additional diagnostics may be required and the healing process is longer.
In either case follow up visits are advised to ensure healing progresses, as ulceration may lead to corneal perforations, vision loss and possible loss of the eye.