Q: My pug Milo has had an on-and-off problem with his right eye that started after he ran into a coffee table. I’ve been taking him to the ophthalmologist for a year now and we know for sure that he can’t see with the injured eye.
The problem is that I have to keep putting drops in it or else it gets angry and I then have to go back to see the ophthalmologist, who yells at me for being lazy. I know it sounds selfish but would it be so bad to have his eye removed?
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The ophthalmologist makes it sound as if that’s the worst thing that could happen, but Milo hates getting the drops and whenever I’m away for the weekend the sitter can’t get the drops in. The whole thing is a mission. A very expensive mission! And he was so healthy before this!
A: Yes, removing the eye is the worst thing that could happen … to his eye. But is it the worst thing that could happen to Milo? I think not. In fact, losing the eye may improve his overall quality of life, as well as your relationship with Milo.
Think about it: Fighting to get drops into the eye twice a day is bad enough, but what happens to your relationship when Milo learns to fear your approaching footsteps? Then there’s the seemingly inevitable relapses that happen when you miss the eye a couple of times or you have to go on vacation.
I’m sure I can give you tips to get the drops in quickly and show you tricks to mitigate Milo’s fear response. In the long term, however, it may well be best to consider removing an organ that’s no longer serving its intended purpose, anyway.
All things being equal, it would be great to keep the eye. Unfortunately, Milo’s reaction, the treatment’s expense, and the predictability of the painful relapses tip the scales steeply in the direction of removal.
Enucleation is what we call this procedure. It involves the same kind of anesthesia as his sterilization surgery and about the same level of pain. In fact, with modern pain protocols, Milo should expect to have minimal post-operative discomfort.
As far as how it looks? What do you care? Milo certainly doesn’t. All he knows is that he doesn’t have to run away every time you come looking for him.