What is a corneal ulcer?

The cornea is the transparent shiny membrane that makes up the front of the eyeball. A corneal ulcer is deep erosion into the third layer of the eye, giving it a cloudy appearance and is painful. The most common cause is trauma. This can result from eyelashes rubbing on the eye (entropion), cat scratch or contact with a sharp object. Most pets will rub the affected eye with a paw or on carpet to attempt to relieve the pain.

Diagnoses methods

Diagnosis is made by direct examination of the eye or in some cases using a special stain.

Treatment options

Some cases can be treated with eye drops/ointment containing antibiotics that will both prevent infection and act as a lubricant, to reduce some of the soreness from the lesion rubbing on the eyelid during blinking. Surgery leads to much shorter healing times generally but comes with some added cost. Pets have an extra eyelid that lies inside the other two lids and is attached to the inside corner of the eye – known as the third eyelid. A third eyelid flap is performed by pulling this structure over the eyeball, and then holding it in place with a suture through the third eyelid and out through the skin lateral to the eye. This surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic.

Recovery and aftercare

Your pet will go home on the day of surgery with a cone in place to prevent trauma that can be caused if your pet tries to rub at the eye with their paw, or tries to rub their face on the floor. The third eyelid flap is usually released around two to four weeks after surgery, depending on the severity of the lesion.