Bichon Frise Eye Problems: All You Need to Know

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Bichon Frise Eye ProblemsAhhh, the bichon frise. The cutest little dog with heart-melting, twinkly eyes, and a cheerful, affectionate disposition. The breed is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean, and it is believed that the Ancient Greeks kept bichon-type dogs as pets. The breed eventually made its way to Spain, where it was prized by the nobility.

Today, the bichon frise is once again cherished as a companion dog and family pet. Unfortunately, our beloved breed is genetically predisposed to some eye problems. Let’s take a look and the common ones and how we can prevent them.

Are Bichons Frises Prone to Suffering Eye Problems?

The bichon frise is a typically healthy breed but these angelic-eyed, fluffy dogs are prone to certain eye problems that can be serious and might even cause blindness. Bichon frise has extra hair that grows around the eyes, which is a major reason for these common eye diseases.

In addition, because of their protruding eyes, bichon frises are at a higher risk for injuries and infections. They are also susceptible to a condition called dry eye, which can cause irritation and inflammation. As a result, it is important to be extra careful when taking care of a bichon frise’s eyes.

Some of these eye problems are hereditary and can be managed with medication and proper care if caught early. With proper care and attention, these dogs can still enjoy a long and healthy life – even in spite of their eye problems.

How To Tell If Your Bichon Frise Has An Eye Problem?

Bichons frises have a beautiful, long-haired, snow-white coat, which makes adorable companions. However, these furballs are likely to get eye problems because of excessive hair on the face. The hair can carry debris and dirt, which can cause allergic reactions, lead to eye problems, or cause infections.

There are numerous ways to identify if your bichon frise has contracted an eye disease:

  • Redness of the eye
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Watery or thick, smelly discharge
  • Squinting
  • Blinking
  • Small spot on the lens which is the beginning of cataracts
  • Clouded lens
  • An eye that appears larger than normal
  • Vision loss (trouble navigating, bumping into objects, not catching treats, etc.)
  • Light sensitivity
  • Pawing at the eye
  • Crust or some goop
  • Brownish red discoloration

The first sign of eye irritation can be seen through the production of tears, which is the body’s natural response to flush out toxins that have contaminated the eyes.

An obvious sign of pain is excessive tearing along with pawing and squinting. You might want to get medical help the moment you spot some onset of eye problems. Many eye diseases are treatable if caught early on, but if left untreated, can escalate to severe disease.

5 Common Bichon Frise Eye Problems

Improper functioning of the eye can have a dramatic impact on your dog’s quality of life. The bichon frise can inherit and develop several eye conditions that are extremely painful, including:

Cataracts

Bichon frise is at a higher risk of hereditary cataracts, which implies that their eyes will start to become milky or cloudy, causing the light to reach the back of the eye. This is a common cause of blindness as the cataract makes the lens opaque and cloudy.

Your dog will start to have trouble navigating or catching treats as they start to have impaired vision. If left untreated, complete vision loss can happen quickly. It is a hereditary disease that is more common in older dogs.

Treatment options are available but your vet will examine the severity before. Surgical replacement of the lens with an acrylic or plastic lens can restore vision, but the surgery requires extensive postoperative care. Post-surgery, many dogs adjust well to the loss of vision and lead a normal life.

Glaucoma

Just like us humans, glaucoma is a painful eye condition that places increased pressure inside the eye in an area called intraocular pressure (IOP). Symptoms of glaucoma incorporate watery eyes, squinting, blue cornea, and visible redness in the eyes. If your dog is experiencing an extreme case of glaucoma, its eyes will enlarge or swell. It is considered a medical emergency because the pain is substantial.

There are two types of glaucoma: primary and secondary. Intraocular pressure due to inherited abnormalities in a healthy eye is considered to be the primary type. The secondary type is a result of eye disease or injury that leads to increased pressure.

Inflammation, drainage blockage, tumors, and damage to the lens are some of the reasons that lead to the development of glaucoma. It is a life-altering condition and requires immediate action to prevent irreversible damage.

Discomfort and pain can be relieved using analgesics, as primary glaucoma is not preventable because of genetics. In case of secondary glaucoma, you can prevent the disease by ensuring the safety of your dog and trying to avoid impact on the face.

Distichiasis

If you’ve ever had an eyelash stray into your eye, you know how irritating it can be. Now imagine having not just one lash, but an entire row of them growing in the wrong direction – right into your eye! That’s the situation for dogs with distichiasis.

Excessive eyelid hair can rub on the eye’s surface, which causes distichiasis, a common eye problem in dogs. In this condition, extra eyelashes grow from the meibomian glands (in the margins of the eyelids), or even directly from the lid itself. These errant hairs can rub against the eye, causing irritation, redness, and sometimes even corneal ulcers.

Because of their long coats and hair over their eyelids, bichons frises are at a higher risk of developing this painful disease. Chronic eye pain and corneal ulcers result if excessive hair is left untreated.

If your dog seems to be squinting a lot or rubbing at his eyes, it’s worth a trip to the vet to check for distichiasis. In some cases, plucking the offending lashes is all that’s needed to provide relief. However, if the condition is more severe, other treatments such as cryotherapy (freezing), electrolysis, and laser surgery may be recommended.

Corneal Lipidosis

This condition is due to the buildup of fatty acids in the layers of the cornea. There are three major reasons for this eye condition – corneal degeneration, high blood cholesterol levels, and corneal dystrophy. Redness, cloudiness, and inflammation of the eye are indicators of this specific condition.

Accumulation of fatty substances can be caused due to three reasons. Corneal dystrophy is common in bichons frises and other dogs and is a genetic condition.  It is not painful and has little impact on vision. Elevated cholesterol can also result in diabetes, hypothyroidism, and Cushing’s disease.

Corneal degeneration is inflammation in the eye. It is usually linked with trauma or injury and is common in dogs. For this condition, vets usually advise anti-inflammatory eye drops and antibiotics. Treatment options also include a reduction in high-cholesterol food.

Entropion

It is an irritating and painful eye problem that is experienced by many breeds including bichons. In this condition, the eyelid rolls inward and the eyelashes constantly rub against the cornea, and if left untreated, entropion can lead to corneal damage and permanent vision loss.

There are several possible causes, including muscle weakness, injury, or facial paralysis. Treatment usually involves surgery to correct the position of the eyelid.

3 Tips to Minimize the Risk of Your Bichon Frise Having Eye Problems

Who would want their cuddly bichon to get sick or lose vision? You can take steps that will minimize the risk of developing eye problems.

1. Healthcare

After your bichon frise has been diagnosed with an eye condition and treated for it, you will need to follow up. It will give your vet an idea of whether the medications are effective, effectively monitor the progress and if need be, make an adjustment in medications.

In addition, stick to the schedule of your bichon’s annual check, which should catch the onset of any eye problems early on and ensure preventative care.

2. Supplements

Some added boosts won’t hurt! Healthy supplements containing nutrients like vitamin C, A, E, B6, and B12 can be used to decrease the risk of eye damage. In addition, you can use eye drops with vitamins in them to prevent the development of eye diseases.

Consult your vet before going this route, though.

3. Grooming

Bichons frises are beautiful dogs that exhibit style and elegance, but cleanliness of our beloved breed is a priority particularly because they are prone to diseases. Try to clean the eye area and any tear stains, and apply petroleum jelly to prevent dust and foreign particles from entering the eyes.

In addition, bichons have excessive facial hair which gives them that oh-so-cuddly cuteness. However, this hair will require extra attention while grooming because they are a major reason for the onset of several eye conditions. Trim the hair around the eye as it will prevent dust particles from getting into the eye. In addition, you should also brush their hair daily.

Try to use a professional groomer to avoid injuries.

4. High-Quality Diet and Exercise

Having a consistent diet and routine is important for a bichon. Feed your dog only high-quality food with nutritious ingredients, and exercise your bichon frise well. They have modest exercise needs but will do well with a 30-minute walk a day to get some fresh air.

Summary

The bichon frise is a wonderful breed, cherished worldwide for its fluffy white coat and amazing disposition.

While eye conditions can be serious, they are often treatable with surgery or medication. With proper care, most bichons frises can enjoy a long and healthy life.

Most importantly, make sure to take your bichon frise to the vet regularly so that any signs of any health issues can be caught as early as possible.