Corneal foreign bodies can be noted in all species including man, and can be quite irritating. Clinical signs noted can include excessive rubbing, tearing, conjunctival swelling, corneal edema, and anterior uveitis.
Superficial corneal foreign bodies can often be removed under topical anesthesia. Often, tranquilization of the patient is necessary as well.
Most superficial foreign material can be dislodged with BSS (Balanced Salt Solution) or with a weck cell ocular sponge.Intracorneal foreign bodies can be more of a challenge, and may require an anesthetic episode for removal.
Following removal of the foreign material, it is important to address the patients’ pain potential, prevent sepsis (infection) and control secondary corneal and conjunctivital inflammation. Ultimately, reducing corneal scarring is important as well. Topical and systemic medications are both intricate parts of the total healing process.
There are some things that can be done to help avoid corneal foreign bodies for your pet. As our pets love to play and have outdoor time, remember they can be vulnerable to environmental changes like excessive wind, and pollen. Also, if you have a high energy breed that loves to fetch, root, dig, or for the occasional swimmer, it may be a good idea to use a topical lubricant to act as a protective barrier for your pet’s eyes as they enjoy their indoor/outdoor activities. The ointment is nonmedicated, and can be purchased over the counter at your local pharmacy. It contains simple ingredients like mineral oil and petroleum. Apply a rice grain ribbon into both eyes prior to any challenging situations.
Since corneal foreign bodies can be painful and also compromise the health of the eye, prevention and awareness is paramount. If you notice your pet squinty, or pawing at their eyes contact your ophthalmologist immediately.