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Service Dog Exams and AEC Critters!

service dog digital banner

Each year the AEC, along with many other ophthalmologists across the country, will examine animals with an active service job for free! It is part of our way of giving back to these wonderful animals that help us in so many facets of our daily lives. This occurs every May so if you missed this year, you can try again next by going to and searching for the Service Animal Event.


Why are we here and why do we do what we do? That’s always a good question to ask one’s self and one that has been tossed around lately in my family as we are in the midst of college hunting. That’s a whole different topic as time passes but is so much more apparent when we look at others, like our children, rather than ourselves. But I digress….we are here because we enjoy animals and taking care of them. Of course, that can’t be the only reason and any veterinary school applicant or counselor will tell you this. But an inherent love of animals has to be present. This is usually evident and develops with our interactions with pets when we are young and continues as we become adults. Dog, cat, hamster, goldfish, horse…you name it, usually one or more wheedles their way into our hearts and is the gateway to working with animals.

So I got to thinking, what critters are in our lives now that we are here taking care of yours? And thus follows a brief expose of the best dogs and cats in the world (don’t we all have one?!) for you to enjoy!

Introducing Tess Stuhr, best frisbee catcher in town! She’s 9 years old now and has been a perfect fit for our family. She is always outside with us, wanting to be one of the boys whenever we are playing sports in the yard or driveway. She has the drive and smarts of an Aussie but the ability to chill when it’s time to relax. We love her!

Tess 1

Budsters, the informal name for Chester Abdul Tobias III, is our new addition last year. This Maine Coon has fit right in and loves to sit on your lap especially when you are reading the newspaper or doing homework. His timing is impeccable! Tess will occasionally remind who is the primary pet of the house, but he’s a cat and doesn’t care!


Ariel and Jasmine are Lisa Marie, our office manager’s cats. These kitties came into her life shortly after her older cat passed and were the rays of sunshine she needed to brighten the day. You couldn’t ask for a more loving pair!


Zeke is Colleen’s dog who harkens from Oklahoma. He looks forward to the treats she can flip him from her Puppy Cam App she has on her phone. He has boxer in him so she is somewhat biased to those types that come into the clinic!

zeke howell

Weasley is Suzanne’s love and this is from a girl who used to be afraid of cats! He rules the roost and let’s her live there, or so he thinks! He must be magical as his name comes from Harry Potter…


Maggie is Kelly’s crazy girl who has kept her busy with all her antics. You can see the devious look as she sits in the picture! Like every lovable lab, she is non-stop which keeps Kelly and her family on their toes.

Maggie Eaton

Boe is Chris’ latest addition, a kitty he and his fiance saved from the streets of West Virginia. As with many of our pets, sometimes they have the penchant of finding you rather than vice versa. Apparently he has gotten bigger which is too bad….he’s quite cute at this size!


We hope to see you and yours soon!

It is Dripping Wet!

Tired of the rain yet? The grass is soaked, basements are flooded, rivers are swollen. Where is the summer sun? And the humidity hasn’t been much fun either. With the non-stop rain here in Connecticut, everything seems to be dripping. That includes lots of our canine patients as they run in from the parking lot! We also see lots of “weepy” eyes where the complaint is primarily a clear, sometimes colored, discharge. Let’s take a look to see what may be behind the scenes with this presentation.


When our patients present with clear discharge, my first question is whether we are making too much tear in response to irritation or whether the outflow pathway, or tear ducts, are compromised. One could presume that in the former instance discomfort would be a feature. This will be manifest as squinting, pawing, rubbing and/or redness to the eye or around the eye. In the latter, discomfort may not be a big feature even with lots of moisture pouring out of the eye.

Diseases with discomfort that present with tearing are many as this is a non-specific sign. However, the nature of the discharge would suggest that infection is not playing a big role otherwise we would see yellow-green discharge. Similarly, significant irritation with marked inflammation my have more mucus or a grey-white discharge. For example, the hallmark of conjunctivitis is discharge but usually one with color. Irritation from foreign bodies or offending hairs may create corneal erosions that are irritating but not infected and thus a clear discharge along with discomfort will be the result. Issues where the lid conformation is abnormal create surface irritation due to the adjacent fur rubbing on the eye. Tearing can then occur during this process which can spill onto the face either directly from the irritation or from a wicking effecting where the tear spills over the lid margin onto the side of the face adjacent to where the lid rolls in. Entropion is the technical name for lids that roll in as a result of genetics (primary entropion) or secondary to globe retraction from surface irritation like a corneal ulcer (spastic entropion). Resolution of the primary entropion by surgery to roll out the lids or appropriate medical or surgery treatment to cure the irritant that causes the spastic entropion will stop the tearing. It’s all connected! Typically a good ophthalmologic exam will reveal the problem.

If upon inspection and testing we rule out surface disease then investigating the outflow system is warranted. Tears are produced by glands that exit through the conjunctiva onto the surface of the eye. These tears then need to be “removed” either by evaporative drying or out through the ducts that are located in the inner aspect of the lids and pass under the surface of the conjunctiva and skin, shortly through bone and into the nose. Most of our patients, except the rabbit, have an upper and lower duct that then join together before exiting the nose. The opening to the duct is called the puncta. Obstruction or narrowing anywhere along this pathway may make the path of least resistance to go over the lid margin and onto the face. This is commonly seen at the inner aspect of the eyelids rather than the outer aspect by the ear. The length of this duct varies with species and breed and thus different issues can affect its passage depending on the type of animal.

nasolacrimal illustration

The lower puncta is easily viewed here as the small non-pigmented circle just inside the pigmented lid margin.

The lower puncta is easily viewed here as the small non-pigmented circle just inside the pigmented lid margin.

Two tests are used in the exam room to evaluate the patency, or intact nature, of the duct system. The first is a passive test, called a Jones Test, where fluorescein dye is placed on the eyeball to see if this dye flows into the nostril region. This dye glows with a blue light and can be easily seen. This test is easy to perform and will tell you if the “plumbing” is working. However, a negative tests does not necessarily tell you that the duct is not patent since flow rate can be slow or the duct may be narrowed which affects the time it takes for the dye to get to the nose. Also, it does not tell if the flow is going through both ducts near the globe initially. Another benefit of the test is that the dye may wick onto the face quickly in some dogs with hair issues that draw the tears onto the face before they get into the puncta.

The second test is more active called nasolacrimal flushing. In this test, a small cannula or catheter connected to a syringe of flush is placed in the upper or lower puncta and gently pressed. The fluid should come out the other puncta and, when obstructed with a finger, out the nose. This should occur with minimal resistance. Most dogs and some cats are amenable to this with just a topical anesthetic. We get information as to whether the openings are intact, if flow out the nose is present, if there is any resistance to outflow and potentially release of a loose blockage.

Fluorescein dye wicking onto the face instead of going into the puncta due to hair and lid anatomy.

Fluorescein dye wicking onto the face instead of going into the puncta due to hair and lid anatomy.

A common entity we see in young dogs is an abnormal development of the lower opening or puncta. An imperforate puncta is when a sheet of tissue is present over the opening due to improper formation at birth. The duct is typically present just under the surface. This is much more common to be seen with the lower puncta. Opening this puncta under a short anesthetic event can improve and sometimes resolve the overflow of tear in the affected eye.

Cats rarely get imperforate puncta but commonly get herpes infections. One manifestation of herpes when acquired as a neonate is the development of adhesions of the conjunctiva to the cornea, third eyelid or itself called symblepharon. Tearing can be noted if these adhesions are associated with the puncta or tear ducts even if the infection is cleared or inactive. Basically these adhesions are scars from the infection. Surgical resolution is typically unrewarding since they recur, however, this is usually good news if all we are left with is tearing. A full discussion of herpes is not necessary here.

Obstruction downsteam of the puncta is less common. Dental or sinus disease can theoretically present with tearing due to the proximity of these structures and the tear duct as it passes into the nose. Mucus plugs are occasionally flushed out but are not too common. Other symptoms may be present if there is trouble downstream of the puncta.

A result of the tearing that bothers many owners, but rarely the dog or cat, is the brownish-red staining of the fur in the wet region as seen in the first photo above. A pigment called porphyrin in the tears reacts with the fur and creates a brown tinge that is very obvious on our white dogs such as Poodles, Bichons and Maltese. This discoloration can happen at any time and is not indicative of any disease process. There is no specific product, diet or medication that resolves this issue much to the chagrin of many. The good news is that this is a cosmetic issue rather than a medical one. The degree of staining may decrease if there is a primary issue when can address that will minimize the overflow.

That’s a wash here! Maybe by the time you have read this the sun will be out!


After a long and cold winter (is it over yet?), the verdicts are back for our winter fashion award winners here at the Animal Eye Clinic. Contestants included any dog that came in wearing anything to keep them warm and chic! This spontaneously concocted event was prompted by all the different clothes we saw this year along with our endless supply of cold days. Award winners will get extra scratches at their next visit. Many owners of these fashion forward critters commented on the numerous choices they had at home, be it costume or functional in nature, that they could


The Pressure is Rising

Glaucoma is a painful, blinding disease that by definition is an increase in the pressure inside the eye. It is a bummer of a disease, probably the worst one we see. Why? Because no matter what approach is taken to attack this disease, our goal is usually to delay, not prevent, vision loss. This doesn’t paint a real rosy picture. But as long as this is understood, then together we can make educated decisions on how we want to manage the problem. Let’s talk a little about this entity and see if I can make it a little easier to

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New technology, old fashioned service

Email! Tweets! Snapchat! Instagram! Facebook! Yikes!!!

We have so many ways to communicate with each other and yet the art of communication seems to be getting lost in the chaos.

Multitasking, usually in the form of a downward stare at a cell phone, occurs constantly in our society even if the action is right in front of our face. We try to stay one step ahead of our day, knocking out an errand while doing another, getting a jump on the next event all while staying in time with the constant deluge of emails and texts that raid our devices. Not

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A Change in the Season

I must confess, I have been remiss at updating my post here at the Animal Eye Clinic. Part of this was intentional, as the last post describes the new cataract surgery machine we purchased last year that is working like a charm. Changes in technology are fascinating and very rewarding when we, as veterinarians, find one that applies to our patients and is cost effective in this ever-changing world of health care. Part of my delay was unintentional, as changes of the kids’ school, health of relatives, staffing and life in general often reworks our life and schedule when we

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Technology Upgrade for Cataract Surgery at the AEC

Cataract surgery in the dog is a highly successful procedure that many owners have chosen for their four-legged friends to regain or improve vision. Cataracts in general and a brief discussion of the preoperative workup and surgery is presented in a prior post that you can peruse if interested titled Cataracts in the Dog. (You can find this older post if you scroll to the bottom of this page and click on Older Entries.) Removal of an opaque, cataractous lens is an elective procedure that is chosen if we feel we can improve our dog’s quality of life by returning

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Summertime Blues!

Summer is here in New England and hopefully all are out and about doing what they like to do when the weather is warm. If anyone complains of heat and humidity I am going to send them right back to February so they remember what cold feels like! I am a sun and fun lover so you won’t hear me complain…no summertime blues for me!

Blue shows up in veterinary medicine in a handful of different ways. We have blue-eyed dogs and Russian Blue cats, blue merle coloring and Blue Amazon parrots. When the eye is blue, that usually refers to

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ACVO Diplomates Giving Back

I am always in awe of how animals enhance and improve our daily life. Whether it is the friendly greeting every day when I come downstairs in the morning or the benefit of the evening walk that I do even if I am not in the mood, to see that unrestrained, unconditional love regardless of the day or mood is priceless. The warm body on a lap during a cold day, the cat rubbing up on your legs awaiting some attention, the look of earnest when you are feeling down, pets of all types fill a very important niche in

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Those darned corneal erosions that won’t heal!

I frequently get asked “what is the most common problem you see?”. The long answer is “depends!” as different species get different diseases, different breeds get different problems, and some problems are seasonal and others are year round. So the allergic conjunctivitis may be absent in winter but cataracts occur at any time and at any age. But one of the problems that shows up on our doorstep on a regular basis is the non-healing corneal erosion in the dog. Your poor friend may be squinting and pawing for weeks in spite of repeated attempts to heal with various

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