Our May Pet of the Month came to see Monica with a very painful eye one Monday morning. Border Collie Dylan’s eye was too painful to allow examination so Monica brought Dylan into theatre to ask if our vet on surgical rotation, Carole, could examine Dylan under sedation.
Once he was asleep, Carole could see an obvious splinter of brown material embedded in the clear surface of the eye (cornea). It was easily removed with a gentle sweep of a cotton bud, but this revealed a bigger problem: a very deep crater-like defect was left in the cornea , leaving the eye vulnerable to rupture by any slight knock or increase in pressure.
Foreign body removed from eye
Hole in cornea visible
After explaining the risks to Dylan’s owner, we proceeded to give him a full general anaesthetic so that we could perform a conjunctival pedicle graft. This technique utilises the loose conjunctival tissue to create a tongue-shaped flap which is then sewn over the defect to create a living bandage. This protects the damaged area and also provides oxygen and nutrients via the flap’s blood supply to improve the healing process. Dylan went home with anti-inflammatory and pupil-dilating eye drops to be administered 4 times daily, and by the next day, Dylan already felt much more comfortable and was more himself again.
Carole wearing binocular loupe for magnification of surgical site.
Graft in progress
Graft acting as a living bandage over wound
After 1 month, the flap was resected to leave a tiny bit of tissue in the place of the original defect. Dylan will always have a tiny scar on his eye, a reminder of how close he came to losing it, and a good example of why any eye injury should be treated seriously and be seen by a vet promptly.