No more pain for Cooper

Cooper, a 6 year old red heeler, was presented to Dr Warren Foreman after a long history of eye problems. Cooper had previously been living on a farm. He had been diagnosed with glaucoma in both eyes. Glaucoma is a serious condition involving too much pressure within the eye. Cooper was totally blind, his eyes were red and painful. He had also suffered from ulceration of the eyein the past.

Treatment options for Cooper were limited as medical management was not viable. Surgical removal of both eyes was the decided treatment to alleviate his discomfort.

Cooper was admitted for surgery later that week. Dr Hayley McPhee surgically removed both of his eyes. Cooper recovered very well from this procedure apart from some minor swelling .

Cooper, like other animals needing similar treatment, was a lot more comfortable after the removal of his eyes and the associated pain. Cosmetically there is some "sinking" at the eye socket but this is generally acceptable for the owners. Silicone implants can be used to improve this look. Cooper had been blind for some time so he had already adapted to this. Care needs to be taken with blind pets that they do not come to harm (eg. fall into pools, wander onto roads etc). Generally, as long as the environment is kept fairly stable, they adapt really well.

Glaucoma is classified as primary or secondary. Primary (hereditary or breed related) glaucoma is most commonly seen in purebred dogs and is rare in cats. Anatomic malformations within the eye is the common form of primary glaucoma. In these cases, increases in intraocular pressure tends to be acute, dramatic and unpredictable. It tends to be a disease which affects both eyes although there may be a lapse of weeks to years. There are several eye diseases (uveitis, lens luxation etc) that can result in secondary glaucoma. With secondary glaucoma, if the underlying disease can be controlled or treated, we have a better chance of controlling the intraocular pressure. Medical therapy is aimed at treating any underlying disease processes and reducing the pressure within the eye. This is not always possible. But, as with any eye condition, the sooner we can treat and diagnose the problem, the better the chances are for success.

From Cooper's owner:

Cooper is a six year old red heeler. He lived with his loving family on a farm near Angaston, however he developed congenital glaucoma and unfortunately by the time his condition was identified, it was too late to save his sight. Difficult decisions had to be made as he needed ongoing eye drops to relieve the pressure of glaucoma and other drops to treat ulcers caused by bumping into things. In an effort to give Cooper a better life, his family and I agreed to give him a week's trial at my home in Prospect to see if he could adapt to a new environment and get on with my beagle Bailey, with the hope that if all went well his family would pay to have his eyes removed and he would stay permanently.

It was amazing, the dogs got on well immediately and Cooper soon worked out where everything was - that the water bowl was by the tank stand and how to find it. I watched him one day stepped off the veranda, turned right and walked towards the tank stand, however this time he brushed the lemon tree with his right side instead of his left, and missed the tank stand, he immediately turned back, found his way onto the veranda and started the process again, this time finding the water! After 4 days it was obvious that things would work out, Cooper and Bailey continued to get on well together even enjoying their evening walks with the neighbour's dog.

After a final talk with his family, I made an appointment for Cooper at the Prospect Road Veterinary Hospital. We saw Dr Warren who said that because of the glaucoma, Cooper would have a constant low grade headache even with eye drops and that he would be much happier without his eyes. Arrangements were made for the operation the following week. Cooper came home the same day of the operation with pain medication and antibiotics. He had to wear a cone to protect his eye area which was quite swollen. Amazingly the biggest problem after the operation was the cone, Cooper knew his way around the veranda and back yard, but the cone distorted his awareness causing him to bump into everything. After about a week Cooper had had enough of the cone and each day I got home from work I would find it discarded on the back lawn.

Before Cooper had his eyes out, I would have said he was a happy dog but Dr Warren was right, without his eyes he was even happier! Cooper and Bailey continue to get along well and much to Bailey's delight they have even worked out how to play with one another. It is wonderful to see them gently growl and chew at each other's necks, first one on the ground and then the other, it's as if Bailey knows that Cooper has a disability as he is not so gentle with the neighbour's dog! Cooper's family visit when they come to the city and are delighted that he has a new life, no pain, freedom of the backyard and company of his friend Bailey. We are all continually amazed how Cooper has adapted to his new life and environment.

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