It's slightly scary how quickly these cases seem to be coming around! This month brave Freddie Andrews is our star.Freddie is a very bouncy 12 week old springer spaniel puppy. Taking photos of him isn't easy as he likes to play so much! As you can see with him attacking the camera strap!Unfortunately he has been born with an incredibly rare condition called Goniodysgenesis which results in Glaucoma developing within the eye.
Inside the eye there is a constant supply of liquid (the aqueous humour) that is maintained at a specific pressure to keep the eyeball inflated. This liquid is constantly produced and then drains through the front of the eye at the drainage angle. Which is located between the iris (the coloured part of the eye) and the cornea (the clear bit you look through). - this is called the iridocorneal angle - an image of this can be seen here.
Tragically with Goniodysgenesis this angle is not formed properly resulting in a lack of drainage of the aqueous humour. As the fluid continues to be produced the pressure inside of the eye ball increases. This is known as Glaucoma. The pressure results in damage to the retina and optic nerve at the back of the eye and blindness then develops. As you can imagine having a swollen eye ball is also incredibly painful.
Brave little Freddie suddenly developed Glaucoma in his left eye at eight weeks of age. Despite the owners amazing efforts, putting drops in hourly - including through the night and taking time off to visit Ophthalmology Specialists down in Southampton, the Glaucoma could not be controlled and he lost his eyesight.
With the eye now permanently blind and painful the decision was made to remove the eye. He was incredibly brave following his surgery. Most dogs after an enucleation spend several days in the hospital on intravenous pain relief. Not Freddie, the very next day he was playful and raring to go and by the afternoon was so bouncy we decided to send him home. You can see a photo of him with his bandage in place after surgery happily playing at home below!
Since then he has been like a different puppy - playful and generally into everything! We are watching his right eye very carefully as ultimately this will develop Glaucoma too due to this condition affecting both eyes.
Most would panic at the thought of having a blind dog but having been glued to the Paralympics recently it has really brought home that amazing feats can be achieved by all regardless of their physical abilities. Dogs use their hearing and sense of smell much more than their eyesight generally and can live very happy fulfilled lives despite being visually impaired. There is an excellent website giving tips on how to help dogs with failing eyesight.
Freddie is a very lucky dog, who lives in a loving supportive environment already preparing for when his eyesight fails in the right eye. He has bells and is being trained to the whistle and as I write I am looking forward to meeting Barney - Freddie's soon to be best friend, another puppy who will effectively help Freddie as the 'pack leader' when the time comes!