Message Number: YG125 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-02-24 19:47:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Glaucoma In Ferrets

Dear Larry:

Glaucoma is not a common ferret disease, but we occasionally see it.
Glaucoma is an increase in pressure in the eye due to lack of filtration of
the aqueous humor. The eye normally produces this clear liquid which fills
the space between the front of the lens and the back of the cornea.
Normally, it drains out through what is known as the filtration angle. When
the filtration angle is malformed (so-called primary glaucoma) or is blocked
(so-called secondary glaucoma) the pressure in the eye increases, resulting
in pain and eventually atrophy of the inner workings of the eye due to the
constant elevated pressure. Blindness may be a reult, as the retina is very
sensitive to pressure increases.

The risk of glaucoma is slightly increased in animals with cataracts.
Rarely a cataractous lens may shift forward in the eye, blocking the
filtration angle. Additionally, in rare cases. lens proteins from the
degenerating cataractous lens may result in an inflammation of the globe
(uveitis) which may proceed to secondary glaucoma. These sequelae are not
common, but they can happen.

Glaucoma is treated most commonly with drugs which constrict the pupils,
which have the effect of opening the filtration angle. Pilocarpine is
available in ointment form, and although I have little experience with it in
ferrets. Truth be told - because blind ferrets are excellent at masking
their blindness, most ferrets with glaucoma are presented only after
irreversible damage to the eye is done.

For evaluation and treatment of glaucoma in a ferret, I would first
recommend a trip to an opthalmic specialist, if at all possible. Accurate
measurement of ocular pressures in ferrets is very difficult due to the
small size of the eye, and someone with extensive expeience in taking
pressures would probably give the best evaluation.

With kindest regards,

Bruce Williams, DVM

....About a year ago I noticed (Sassy) was developing a
> small "dot" over her right eye. I investigated and discovered she was
> developing cataracts. This was confirmed by her veterinarian.
> Her right eye at this point is completely covered and she has a
> small catarct on her left eye now. She gets around well and I have
> made provisions for this disability.
> My question is regarding glaucoma. Is it common in ferrets? How
> can I and my veterinarian determine if she has glaucoma? If I can
> have her tested what treatments or medications are available? I do
> not want her to suffer with painful eye pressure, swelling, etc.
> Any information, recommedations, or website info would be
> GREATLY appreciated. I'm aware of your incredible reputation and
> finese regarding ferrets, and your busy schedule. I appreciate any
> information you may be able to provide me.
> Respectfully,
> Larry Rodriguez