Our office dog Harley has suffered for many years with a serious eye condition. Not wanting to have his eye removed we have worked with Heidi, his Specialist, in Birmingham, to conserve his eyesight for as long as possible.
Meet Harley, an 11 year old Yorkshire terrier, who first came to see Willows eye Specialist Heidi Featherstone back in 2008. At that stage Harley was diagnosed with a serious, potentially painful and blinding condition called ‘lens luxation’.
The normal eye has a lens inside it to help with focussing, and it is held in place by tiny anchoring threads. Unfortunately for Harley, these threads were snapping and his lenses were coming loose inside both eyes.
The broken threads around the lens cannot be repaired, and the best treatment currently available is surgical removal of the lens early in the course of the disease. The left eye was a good candidate for surgery, and Heidi performed this using modern techniques and instrumentation, just the same as those used for cataract surgery in humans. Unfortunately, the right eye was in a more advanced state, and it was felt that it was best to try to manage this with medication. About two years later, the right eye developed problems with internal bleeding, and it became blind and painful. At this stage Heidi performed an operation to place a silicone ball inside the right eye – this removes the painful contents, but keeps the outer shell of the eyeball.
Harley’s left eye has gone on to do really well, and although it has required management for glaucoma (which is frequently seen in cases of lens luxation) Harley still has vision in the eye six years (more than half his life!) after surgery. He has pressure-reducing drops applied to his left eye four times every day, and lubricating ointment put in his right eye three times a day by his very caring and dedicated owners.
For the last 4½ years Harley has lived with a very cute tiny teacup Yorkie called Neo who always comes with Harley for his regular check-ups at Willows and gives him plenty of moral support (but happily stays on the consulting room floor!).
Harley’s owners have also bought him a pair of eye protecting goggles to help to avoid any problems that could come from walking in long grass. Harley seems to have taken really well to wearing them, and occasionally pushes them up on his forehead when he wants to strike an especially cool pose!