Glaucoma in Bassets

By Diane Morgan - Author of The Basset Hound Owner's Survival Guide

Like human beings, dogs can suffer from glaucoma. Unfortunately, basset hounds are particularly prone to this painful blinding disease. It is caused by a buildup of fluid (aqueous humor) pressure inside the eye, which comes about when the drainage outlets become blocked. The disease most commonly affects dogs between the ages of 4 and 9.

Although there are two types of glaucoma, bassets generally suffer from primary glaucoma. This is hereditary and usually starts in one eye; later it affects both. Secondary glaucoma usually results from injury or trauma to the eye and is thus not inherited. To make things a bit more complicated, primary glaucoma also comes in two forms: closed angle and open angle. In closed angle glaucoma, the disease is characterized by a shallow anterior chamber and a narrow angle that compromises filtration due to the iris's blocking the angle and causing an increase in intraocular pressure. This is the type most often found in bassets. In open angle glaucoma, the angle of the anterior chamber remains open, but filtration of the aqueous humor is gradually reduced, causing (again) an increase in intraocular pressure.


Glaucoma can come on very suddenly. The affected eye is swollen, red, and cloudy. It is obviously painful. The pupil will be abnormally large, and may weep. The dog may be sensitive to light.


It is critical to get the dog to a vet at once. Although a veterinary ophthalmologist is best, you will need to stabilize the condition as fast as possible, so get the dog to any vet as quickly as possible. Your vet will make an accurate diagnosis with a tonometer to measure the pressure (almost all vets have one.) The veterinarian will try to relieve the pressure with eye drops and/or diuretics. Several medications may be required. The point is to relieve the pressure as quickly as possible. The vet will need to re-evaluate the dog every couple of days during the first week. In many cases surgery to remove the affected eye is the only option. Even in cases where the eye is not removed, your dog will need surgery, less than ten percent of dogs will have vision at the end of one year. Surgery options include diode laser surgery and cyclocryosurgery.

If Your Dog Goes Blind:

One-eyed and even blind dogs can adjust remarkably well, much better than people. Because they rely heavily on their noses, the loss of sight is not so dire to them as it would be to us. After all, dogs don't care about reading books, viewing sunsets, or going to the movies. They do enjoy their supper, though, and blindness doesn't hinder their enjoyment of that one bit.