Pictured above is our 3rd vet specialist selfie of 2018. Beignet and I just made our first 6 hour round trip visit to see Dr. John Warren at Veterinary Eye Institute in Plano, Texas (http://www.veterinaryeyeinstitute.com/meet-our-doctors/john-r-warren/ ). When Beignet got diagnosed with diabetes, all I could focus on was that she was only 7 years old and could soon be blind due to this diagnosis. Was she going to be able to beat diabetes? Of course I just assumed as a physician she would be the best controlled diabetic my vet has ever seen (and yes Bennie decided that wasn’t going to be the case…). Was her perfect control going to be soon enough to prevent diabetic cataracts? I sure hoped so.
The doctor in me immediately thought I needed to do all the preventative precautions for a diabetic. However we had a few obstacles. First there are very few vet specialists in our area. Secondly, Beignet threw me a major ball when she became extremely ill just weeks after her diagnosis. Worries over her eyes after a 6 week struggle for her life were just a distant memory.
Dr. Warren said it is always best to see a vet ophtho as soon as possible after a diabetes diagnosis. They can guide you through what to expect. Work with you on preventative care options. And also diagnose cataracts and other eye conditions that may already be present. Depending on the source, 50-70% of dogs diagnosed with diabetes develop cataracts during the first year after their diagnosis. Beignet has 4 more months until her 1 year anniversary so we hope that we beat those odds. However all diabetics will eventually get cataracts. My almost 12yo nondiabetic has early lenticular cataracts from old age now. My understanding is that diabetic cataracts respond better to surgery than nondiabetic cataracts, so at least there’s that if I can afford surgery when our time comes.
What I didn’t realize with my focus on cataracts was the next most common eye disorder in diabetics, Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (aka dry eye). After a bout with corneal ulcers, Beignet received this new diagnosis weeks ago. Having the same diagnosis, I have some idea of what she’s been going through. However my dry eye doesn’t involved nasty snot pouring from my eyes all the time (thankfully). Beignet can at times not open her eyes. She blinks repetitively. I’m constantly having to clean her eyes and apply drops. If your diabetic dog has mucus discharge of any color from his/her eyes, please have your dog tested for dry eyes or better yet, see a vet eye doctor if you haven’t already. When Beignet saw Dr. Warren, she still had ZERO tear production in either eye. She has to do a month of once daily steroid drops along with a compounded 3 time a day immmunosuppressant drop that will hopefully stimulate tear production. If dogs fail therapy they can transplant a saliva gland from the mouth to the eye which causes nonstop tearing. We hope we don’t have to resort to this….
We will be traveling back to see Dr. Warren in a month. Please pray that her eyes are responding to treatment. We are feeling a little defeated at the moment. I keep thinking – what next?? Before 2018, we had minimal issues. So far, it’s been diabetes followed by chronic pancreatitis followed by suspected jejunal inflammatory bowel disease followed by a new heart murmur and now this. You can see with all that, why we aren’t the perfectly controlled diabetic I initially thought she would be (although is there even such a thing???). Her eye issues require more time than anything else. And for the record her heart issue was insignificant. Despite it all except for the 6 weeks in February/March and this past month this sweet baby has been nothing but happy no matter what she had to deal with. I’m hoping we get back to that fun loving, tummy rub obsessed, tail wagging, loves everyone happy girl again!
To end, my advice is even if you have to drive, get your dogs eyes checked! Even if you can’t afford cataract surgery, getting established might improve you dog’s long term outcomes. And what if your dog has treatable dry eye, like Bennie or another easily treatable condition? Not treating can lead to vision loss. I definitely don’t think a $125 visit was at all unreasonable especially in that it was the nicest vet office I’ve ever visited. Just wish he was a little closer!!!
~Devoted Doxie Mom
Addendum : A lot of diabetic dog owners go ahead and start lubricant eye drops when their dog is diagnosed to hopefully prevent their dog from getting dry and becoming more susceptible to corneal ulcers. Here is the type many use pictured above. Click on the pic to purchase.
Although it was recommended that Beignet not use just drops. Instead, Dr. Warren insisted she use the GenTeal Tears Severe Gel (not to be confused with the version for nighttime that’s a step up from this which we were told not to use). You can purchase the gel by clicking on the pic ABOVE
There is no set brand of eye wash you have to use. It’s best to use a dog version of an eye rinse though or sterile water whereas the GenTeal brand of dry eye products are actually made for humans but okay to use on pets. I’ve posted a link to our favorite sterile eye wash below. Click on the pic to purchase.