Filed under: Luna's Life | Tags: Ascorbic Acid, Cocker Spaniel, Cosopt, Glaucoma, Optimmune, Prednisolone Acetate, Vitamin C, Xalatan
Canine Glaucoma is a problem that is common in many pure breed dogs. Currently it is estimated that 0.5 percent of all dogs in the United States(~ 365,678) suffer from glaucoma. The course of treatment involves the use of eyedrops that are used also for humans, and are both costly and potentially dangerous. Once a canine is diagnosed with glaucoma, eyedrops are first prescribed, and if this isn’t able to halt the progression of the disease, then removal of the eye or eyes is necessary. On average, the cost of this surgery falls in the $3,000 – $4,000 range, and still requires the use of drops and steroids to keep the eye from drying. For most pet owners, this is a prohibitive and expensive solution, and in the longterm will resolve the glaucoma but not the ongoing costs of maintenence of the now “cosmetic only” eyes.
There are few solutions that are offered other than the ones mentioned above as alternatives for treating canine glaucoma. Through doing searches online for possible botanical or naturalpathic remedies, there were the usual suspects that popped up. In searching for alternative treatments for humans, there was one study that stood out as a possibility. The study was done by a researcher that was giving massive doses of Vitamin C to glaucoma patients, using the standard double blind method with a control group. The study is at this link.
Humans are incapable of manufacturing Vitamin C, that is why it is important for it to be taken on a daily basis. Canines on the other hand are capable of manufacturing their own. This poses a problem in considering treating canine glaucoma, in that if their livers are producing all they need, the addition of more into their diets could be viewed as possibly hazardous. In humans there is no set toxicity defined for Vitamin C, in that humans regulate how much they take into their blood stream naturally, excreting the unused portion out. In searching for toxicological studies on canines, I was unable to find a clear definition nor amount on what is considered safe or not.
In June 3, 2008, my Cocker Spaniel, Luna was diagnosed with canine Glaucoma. What was thought to be a trip to the vet to check for cataracts at first, turned into a rushed trip to an eye specialist. The eye pressure test that was taken that day ranged in the right eye at 50 IPO, the left 48 IPO. The normal eye pressure is in the 15 to 25 IPO range. Luna was in pain, and the only immediate solution was to start an intensive round of eyedrops, consisting of three different ones in total. Around the clock spacing of the drops was necessary, which made administering them complicated and difficult. A followup appointment was made for two weeks later with the same eye specialist to make sure the medications prescribed were having an effect.
After two weeks of providing medication, a second round of eye pressure checks revealed that her eye pressure had actually increased, the right eye at 80 IPO , the left eye at 50 IPO. The specialist at that time explained the next solution that should or must be considered, the removal of both the eyes. Resistent to the idea, and wanting to avoid this at all costs, I requested some other medication that may be potentially used. The specialist wrote a prescription for one other eye drop medication, the last resort. Luna began taking the additional medication and I hoped for some sort of miracle. Before leaving the specialists, an estimate was provided for the eye removal surgery. The grand total came within the range of $3,312.00 to $3,971.00, dependent on the options that were chosen.
I was devastated to say the least. I wanted Luna to be free of the terrible pain from the elevated eye pressure. I also knew that the expense was huge, and that it was going to take working extra jobs and loading up the credit card to pay for the eye removal operation. After the initial shock had worn off, that is when I began the search for a potential alternative. Ten days after the diagnosis, two changes were made. I stopped using commercially produced dog kibble, and began Luna on a diet of brown rice with vegetables and organic canned turkey. The second change, was the addition of small amounts of Vitamin C to her diet. At first I added 250 mg to her daily meal, broken up into small pieces so that it would be consumed unnoticed. I also checked her stools daily to make sure that she wasn’t suffering from diarreha, a common side effect from high doses of Vitamin C. Within a week I had increased her intake to 1000 mgs without a negative side effect. At this time, I had slowly tapered back on the medications that I was giving her to a point where she was down to just a single one daily.
On July 25th, Luna had the pressure checked in both eyes once again. There was little in the way of expectation on my part. The results were the following: the right eye was at 12, the left eye at 10. I found this hard to believe. Each eye was tested three times to make sure this wasn’t a fluke. The technician looked back over the medical record, and noted that they were extremely low compared to what had been recorded only a few weeks earlier. The technician consulted the doctor, and relayed back the next course of action. One eye medication was to be stopped, the others were to be maintained. I voiced a concern about how low the eye pressure was, and the technician was shocked at my worries. Her response was that it is better to be low than high, and as long as it is within an acceptable range. I didn’t mention to the technician at the time that pretty much all medication had been stopped, and that the only two changes that occurred were ones that I had made on my own.
It is now the second week of September, and a follow-up pressure check is being scheduled to verify the continuation of the results. It is important to note that the results will probably vary, but it is worth a try. The total bills to date for the eye specialist and the numerous eye medications has easily topped $1,100 so far. The current expense is time; the preparation of Luna’s meals, and the cost of her vitamin C. The amount of energy that she now has, is far beyond how she was doing before coming down with glaucoma. She is much more active, happier, and less sedate than she has been in a long time. Due to the advanced nature of the glaucoma, Luna is irreversibly blind, which has taken some time to adjust to. The main concern now is to make sure that the eye pressure levels remain low, and that she lives a happy and full life without pain from the disease. But as with all major life changing events that may happen, we’ve adapted and moved on. I can’t say that if you try what I did that you would get the same results, only that the results have worked for us. And as time passes, I will keep everyone posted as to what her test results are, and how she is doing in general.
Listed below are all her stats and vitals to try and help others with finding a balance that may work for their canine suffering with Glaucoma.
Age and Breed: 8 year old female, Pure breed Cocker Spaniel
Diagnosis: Open angle Glaucoma
Perscribed by the eye specialist: Cosopt, Xalatan, Optimmune, Prednisolone Acetate
Weight: ~25 lbs (11.33 kg)
Current Dosage of Vitamin C: 1000 mg USP
Current Diet: Brown Rice, steamed vegetables, canned organic turkey dog food, brewers yeast, and a single egg.
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