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Glaucoma in Morkie Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatments

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If you’ve noticed your Morkie frequently rubbing its eye and also producing a watery discharge, there’s a chance he or she has glaucoma.

Untreated eye problems can lead to serious consequences such as irreversible eye damage and blindness, so it’s best you take the necessary steps to immediately diagnose and treat your Morkie.

During this in-depth guide, you’ll learn what the eye condition is, the signs and symptoms, and how it’s diagnosed and treated.

Morkie Glaucoma Explained

Glaucoma is a condition that occurs when there is increased pressure inside your Morkie’s eye. Normally, eye pressure is regulated with fluid (referred to as aqueous fluid) flowing in and out of the eye at a level rate. If an imbalance occurs and there is too much fluid or too little fluid being drained, your pet’s eye pressure will increase.

In more scientific terms, this condition causes a pressure increase in intraocular pressure (IOP). High intraocular pressure causes severe damage to the retina and optic nerve. The damage caused to the retina and optic nerve can eventually lead to blindness.

The retina is the innermost lining of the Morkie’s eyeball and is located on the back surface. The retina contains light-sensitive rods and other cells that transform images into nerve signals. Furthermore, the optic nerve is a nerve that runs from the back of the eyeball into the brain. It’s responsible for producing vision because it carries signals from the retina to the brain.

This eye condition can be painful, and about 40% of cases lead to permanent blindness within a year. Sadly, this isn’t a disorder that can be cured. Most dogs with this condition will end up losing vision in the affected eye. However, most cases can be managed with proper medication if detected early enough. Early detection will help your dog keep their vision for as long as possible and maybe even its entire life.

How Can It Affect Your Morkie

A Morkie, as you know, is a hybrid dog breed between a Maltese and Yorkshire Terrier. Furthermore, a Yorkie is a small dog that is more prone to many eye problems, including glaucoma and dry eye. A Maltese dog is also more genetically predisposed to this condition as well as corneal ulcer conditions.

For this reason, you should treat your Maltese mix with the utmost care and attention. These are small breed dogs that require constant love and attention. Pay close attention to any signs of behavioral changes. Let’s discuss the signs that present themselves when your mixed-breed dog has eye trouble.

Cute morkie sitting on grass lawn

Symptoms and Signs That Your Morkie May Show

If you notice any of these symptoms, we recommend bringing your Morkie dog to a physician as soon as possible. It’s possible that vision could be lost within hours of these disease signs, and the disorder can spread to the other eye in 50% of cases if left untreated.

The first signs of this condition include noticeable eye pain that develops in the form of frequent eye rubbing, swollen eyes, squinting, fluttering eyelid, and eye redness. You may also notice a watery discharge being emitted from the Morkie’s eye that causes tear stains.

Upon closer examination of the eye, you may also see different-sized pupils, a cloudy cornea, and vessels in the white of the eye. Symptoms include psychological effects as well. Your best pal may lose appetite, avoid being touched, and show depressed and lethargic behavior. This is because their lack of vision or eye pain is reducing their overall quality of life.

When To Contact Your Vet

You need to contact your veterinarian immediately if your loving pet has symptoms of the eye condition. Waiting to see if your dog heals by itself increases the risk of permanent blindness. Furthermore, this eye disorder is a very painful condition that your dog shouldn’t have to endure.

Two Different Types of Glaucoma

Two types of glaucoma exist in hybrid Yorkies, aka Morkie Poos: primary glaucoma and secondary glaucoma.

Primary Glaucoma

There is an imbalance of fluid drainage which results in increased eye pressure.

Secondary Glaucoma

Another condition, incident, or trauma occurs that causes intraocular fluid drainage to be severely slowed or blocked. This results in high eye pressure. Furthermore, secondary glaucoma is twice as common as primary in canines.

Causes of Glaucoma in Morkies

Primary Glaucoma

Primary glaucoma is caused by genetic predisposition. This means that based on your Morkie’s genetics, they have an increased risk of getting the eye disorder. The condition can happen at any age and even in a Morkie puppy, but most dogs with primary glaucoma are diagnosed around 3-7 years old.

Agonizingly, most dogs with this disorder eventually lose vision in both of their eyes. Even with medication and surgery, eye removal may be the best option to eliminate the intense eye pain your dog faces.

black morkie sitting with white and red ball

Secondary Glaucoma

Secondary glaucoma is when increased eye pressure occurs due to disease or injury to the eye. The disease or injury results in a physical obstruction to aqueous humor drainage. This obstruction leads to an increased fluid buildup and increased pressure in the iridocorneal angle (ICA).

These are the most common triggers of the secondary condition in dogs:

Uveitis

This is inflammation in the interior of the eye causing debris and scar tissue blocking the drainage outlet.

Anterior Dislocation of the Lens

The lens luxates forward out of position and blocks the drainage outlet.

Tumors

These can cause physical blockage of the iridocorneal angle.

Intraocular Bleeding

Bleeding can result in a blood clot that prevents drainage of the aqueous humor.

Damage to the Lens

A ruptured lens can cause swelling that blocks the drainage angle.

Diagnosis of Morkies

Whether or not your Yorkie Poo has primary or secondary glaucoma, the end result is the same. The inability to properly drain fluid and keep eye pressure at a safe level results in a damaged optic nerve and retina – worst case leading to blindness. If you notice any of the symptoms above, you should bring your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

After arriving at the veterinarian hospital, your vet will ask you about the symptoms you’ve noticed and how long you’ve noticed them for. They will also want to know about any previous trauma or behavior associated with eye pain or vision loss. Afterward, they will perform a tonometry test using a tonometer to measure the pressure inside your dog’s eye. The physician may put some anesthetic on at first to avoid discomfort. The normal pressure inside of the eye is 10-25mm Hg1-3 and gradually decreases with age.

There are three different methods of performing the tonometry test.

The first method involves using the tonometer to blow a puff of air on the dog’s eye to measure the indentation. The second method is when the physician presses a small plastic disk against the Morkie’s eye to measure pressure. The last method uses an electronic tonometer to measure eye pressure.

Furthermore, your veterinarian may use an x-ray or ultrasound to rule out the presence of an eye abscess, injury, or tumor. This will let them find out if your dog has primary or secondary glaucoma. If it’s secondary, they’ll have to treat the original cause of the condition quickly.

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Duration of Disease in Morkie Poos

After your veterinarian diagnoses your Maltese Yorkie mix for either primary or secondary, they will also diagnose either acute or chronic.

Sudden Glaucoma

To detect sudden glaucoma, the pup’s pupil will have a sluggish response to light and the blink response is extremely weak or even nonexistent. The cornea will also be swollen or cloudy, and the eye will be red, tearing, and inflamed.

Acute glaucoma is when the dog’s IOP is increased for less than 12 to 24 hours. If you’re able to detect the condition in this phase, it’s possible to save your dog’s vision; however, only 50% of patients regain sight even when it’s treated in this phase.

Cute morkie laying in pet bed

Chronic Glaucoma

To detect the chronic condition, the dog’s pupil will have no response to light, and the blink response will be completely absent. Also, the eye will be enlarged, red, and inflamed.

This condition occurs when the increased IOP has been sustained for days or longer. Medical treatments may slow the progression of the disease, but your dog’s vision in the affected eye will most likely be lost. Typically, this more severe eye problem usually develops due to misdiagnosis during the acute phase or isn’t caught in time by the pet owners.

Treatment of Glaucoma in Morkies

The cause of the disease, either primary or secondary, is crucial in determining the appropriate treatment plan for the affected and unaffected eye.

As you may have guessed, the specific treatment your dog requires depends on the cause and severity of the condition. Each treatment option’s goal is to restore normal eye pressure in your canine. This happens by decreasing fluid production, increasing fluid drainage, and providing pain relief.

If your pup has secondary glaucoma, the veterinarian will also need to treat the cause of it. They may need to repair trauma, remove tumors, or institute antibiotics for infection. The vet will also take the necessary steps to prevent the condition from developing in your dog‘s other eye.

Medication Treatment

Most medications come in the form of topical drops or ointments. The topical drops and ointments will lower the pressure of the dog’s eye and/or treat infection or inflammation. Your vet will recommend you administer the medication 3 times a day for a set period of time and may offer your dog some oral medications.

Cyclocryotherapy Treatment

Cyclocryotherapy is when the veterinarian uses cold temperatures to eliminate the cells that produce intraocular fluid. The fluid will then be drained out and the fluid-producing cells changed to stop the buildup of fluid within the eye. This treatment option is ideal when it’s detected early as it can slow down or stop the eye disorder from progressing further.

Surgery Treatment

Surgery may also be required depending on the severity of your Morkie’s health condition. There are three main surgical operations performed to eliminate the eye defect. Cyclophotocoagulation is when the physician uses a laser to destroy the part of the eye that’s responsible for fluid production. The specific part of the eye is the secretory epithelium of the eye’s ciliary body. The second surgical option is called gonioimplantation and is when a small tube is implanted into the eye to provide a fluid drainage outlet. The last treatment option is enucleation and is when the eyeball is completely removed. This option is only used in severe cases when other treatments aren’t effective. Furthermore, your dog may require repeat surgeries depending on the recovery progression.

Is There a Cure

Although treatment is available for this eye condition, there is no cure. This eye disease will usually always lead to permanent blindness in the affected eye.

However, early detection and treatment will extend the time until permanent vision loss. If it’s caught and treated early enough, the time until vision loss can exceed your dog’s life expectancy. So, the best thing you can do as a pet owner is to bring your Maltese Yorkie mix to a clinic at the first sign of any issues.

Cute morkie sitting in front of table outside

Cost of Treating Morkies

The cost of treating your dog for this eye defect depends on the treatment plan your veterinarian recommends. It also depends on your clinic, location, and physician.

However, you can expect to spend thousands of dollars because of all the routine checkups, medications, and potential surgery. Although the initial cost of surgery is potentially high, your dog will most likely only need one operation. If you don’t have pet insurance, we recommend finding out if a new plan would cover your dog’s medical treatment.

Recovery of Treated Morkies

Treatment will help delay the progression of the disease and provide pain relief; however, most Morkies lose vision in each infected eye within two years without surgery.

Prognosis of Infected Morkies

The prognosis ultimately depends on the severity and underlying cause of the condition. Long-term, your Maltese Yorkie mix will require constant medical treatment to keep the disease under control.

What if My Morkie Becomes Blind

Although it will be difficult to cope with the loss of your dog’s vision, most Morkies adapt surprisingly well to life without vision. Smell and hearing are far more important senses than sight in all dogs. If your bestie only lost vision in one eye, they won’t have significant difficulty getting back to their old playful ways. However, if the vision was lost in both eyes, your Morkie will need more time to adapt to its new way of life. You should offer encouragement as much as you can but resist the urge of babying your mixed breed dog every second of the day. Your dog will slowly get used to walking around without vision and gain the confidence necessary to adapt to his/her new lifestyle.

Let’s discuss how you can care for your visually impaired pup:

Starting with your home, you should first get your Maltese Yorkie mix the most comfortable dog bed you can find. This provides him with a safe haven he can always relax in. Furthermore, avoid moving around the furniture in your home, so your dog can build a mind map and memorize where everything is. Get on all fours and look for any potentially hazardous objects and edges. Next, constantly use your voice to communicate with your Morkie. They will start learning new commands and better understand what you’re telling them. Whenever you’re outside the home, leave the TV on, so your dog can use the sound to orient its surroundings and also help curb separation anxiety. Remember your Morkie will always love to play, so purchase noisy toys and scent work.

morkie sitting in front of colorful background

How To Prevent Glaucoma in Morkies

The two different types of this eye disorder, primary and secondary, have two different ways of prevention. However, the best way to care for your dog is through early detection since there is no vaccine that prevents the onset of this disease. By detecting it early, you can prevent the progression of the condition and the resulting blindness. So we urge you to bring your Morkie to a veterinarian if you notice any changes or swelling in the eye.

Primary glaucoma is unpreventable because it’s caused by genetics and your Morkies DNA. However, you can take the proper steps to slow down any degenerative changes to your puppy’s eyes and reduce its chances of developing it.

Implement antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C, and nutraceuticals into their diet. This helps reduce the amount of damage that occurs to the eye’s cells. Furthermore, reduce the overall amount of stress in your Morkie’s environment and ensure they’re receiving the attention and care they need. Lastly, make sure the collar around their neck isn’t too tight.

Secondary glaucoma can be prevented by keeping your dog as safe as possible. Don’t allow your dog to perform tasks that can cause injuries or accidents.

How To Help Your Morkie Live a Fulfilling Life

This is a lifelong condition that requires consistent medication, checkups, and care. If you’re lucky enough to catch it early on in its development, there’s a chance your dog will retain its vision for its entire life.

Since this condition isn’t contagious between animals or humans, you can still interact with your pup as you normally would.

However, your Morkie breed dog will most likely face intermittent eye pain due to the increased pressure. We recommend speaking with your veterinarian and asking them how you can provide the best life for your Morkie breed puppy.

Summary of Glaucoma in Morkies

This painful eye condition is caused by a build-up of intraocular fluid and increased pressure in the eye. The resulting increase in eye pressure causes damage to the Morkie’s retinal and optical nerve, and damage to these vital vision organs can lead to permanent blindness.

With this in mind, dog owners should be extremely attentive to any signs of eye pain and bring their dog to a veterinarian as soon as any symptoms arise.