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Spontaneous Hyphema in a 13-Year Old Pomeranian

2011 May 22

13-Year Old Pomeranian’s Eye Starts to Bleed

“Doc, what’s the red glint in his eye?”

Doc Truli stopped examining the Grade 4 out of 4 periodontal disease loose, infected teeth and focused on Taylor’s eye.  The medial (inner) corner of the fragile golden Pomeranian’s left eye sported a crescent of red inside the eyeball!

A glimmer of a red crescent in the eyeball of a golden elderly Pomeranian under anesthesia for dental surgery

Start of Hyphema in this Pomeranians eye

Causes of Hyphema

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).  Taylor was undergoing an anesthetic procedure and his blood pressure, under continuous monitoring, never elevated above normal.
  • Trauma.  Doc was with him every second.  No trauma.
  • Retinal Detachment.  Examination showed normal retina.
  • Clotting Disorders.  Problems with platelets that clot blood or factors (molecules) in the blood that aid in the body’s ability to close up bleeding vessels right away could lead to spontaneous sudden hyphema.  Pre-anesthesia lab work showed no anemia (lowered red blood cell count), and we ran stat clotting tests and counted platelets under the microscope right there in the surgery room.  No problems.
  • Neoplasia.  Cancer could spontaneously bleed or cause blood vessels to rupture.  No visible lumps or bumps could be found in the eye.  Luckily, the nurse noticed the hyphen right away, so there was time to examine the eye right away before it potentially filled up with vision-obscuring blood.
  • Anesthesia.  For reasons unelucidated, anesthesia can trigger spontaneous hyphema.  In this case, the body should destabilize and absorb those red blood cells over a few weeks and Taylor would be back to normal.

The Hyphema Continued

After a few more minutes, the whole left eye became filled with blood.  It looked just like a big red marble.

Complete hyphema in a Pomeranians eye.

Doc Truli hoped the bleeding would just stop, but the bleeding continued until the whole globe of Taylor’s left eye was cherry red!  We quickly finished the oral surgery, in spite of the hyphema.  The decision was difficult because Doc wanted Taylor awake and back to normal as quickly as possible.  But, Taylor’s loose teeth and infected gumlines needed treatment to help his quality of life.  We finished the oral surgery and Taylor woke up without incident.

Luckily, his right eye did not bleed, so he had plenty of vision when he woke up.  After two weeks, he was back to normal.  (We could not get a picture because he moves his head around like crazy when he is awake in front of the camera.)

If Your Dog, or Cat’s Eye Suddenly Turns Red, Get to the Veterinarian Right Away!

Hyphema can be a sign of a life-threatening bleeding disorder.  If you delay in getting veterinary help, you could lose your pet’s life!

More Reading

Hyphema in People

Hyphema in Dogs

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