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Date:   22 August, 2010  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs & rabbits
A Fox Terrier has an eye ulcer
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First recorded: 11 February, 2002
22 August, 2010 
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129

1-year-old Miniature Fox Terrier with sore eye (left) tranquilised. Singapore."There is something wrong with my Miniature Fox Terrier," said Mr Lim who had to take urgent leave to bring his dog to the vet. "Her left eye is half closed this morning. What would be the cause of this problem?"

There was some redness in the eye white of the left eye. 
The bitch would not allow me to open its eye lids for a proper examination.  She growled softly as I administered eye drops.  She had given warning and it would be foolish to struggle further as she might inadvertently bite her owner.  A muzzle might be useful but there would be a big struggle to restrain the female dog.  

Dog's corneal ulcer. Singapore"A tranquiliser would be needed to check out the eye," I told Mr Lim. "There must be a corneal ulcer somewhere."  Inside the examination room, the cornea looked normal. However, on viewing from the side, a very small hole was seen in the cornea at eleven o'clock.  It was a fresh ulcer and therefore did not have the white cloudiness commonly seen when the dog continued rubbing its eye, injuring it further. This small ulcer could be easily missed during examination in a fluorescent consultation room.  It was easily seen from the side of the eye when the dog was placed under natural daylight. The ulcer was treated with stitching up of the eyelids.

Dog's corneal ulcer. 2 mm wide.  Singapore  "What is the colour of the cornea?" I asked Daniel, the fourteen-year-old boy in a Secondary Four class.  

He was Mr Lim's son and recently, his teacher had asked him to bring a pig's eye to the class for the biology lesson. 

"What's a cornea?" he asked me. I thought the teacher had taught him just two days ago.  Too many new medical terms. It would be a gifted student who could remember all these terms or one with passion for biology. The cornea is the front clear part of the eye. The cornea is covered with a clear layer called epithelium. The corneal epithelium transparent and smooth. If the corneal epithelium is scratched, scraped or rubbed off a corneal ulcer (hole) occurs. 

If Daniel did not focus on his study, he would not get the grade to qualify for study at the junior college and then the university. He did not want to go to the polytechnic after his "O" levels examination at the end of Secondary Four as he would get a diploma, not a degree.

There would be a second chance to study at the university but only the top 5% of the polytechnic graduates will be given a chance to study for a degree course at the Singapore university.  The annual tuition fees for an engineering course in Australia in 2002 are S$16,000 excluding accommodation. The total cost would be $30,000 per year and very few parents can afford such expenses. .  

Daniel was an intelligent boy who would not give his academic studies priority, like most boys of his age. There were more interesting things to do, such as Archie comics and internet gaming.  It was his future. You can take the horse to the water but you can't make it drink

Pig's eye for biology class for 14-year-old students, Singapore.The cornea is the transparent layer of the eye. The iris is brown in this eye.  The aqueous and vitreous is the clear gelatinous stuff behind the cornea and gives the eyeball its globular shape. 

The sclera is the eye white. The conjunctiva is the pinkish tissue above the sclera. It becomes very red and infected when there is a corneal ulcer and the dog squints and rubs its eye.

When the cornea is broken, the aqueous and vitreous humour will come out and the eyeball collapses.  

Picture of a pig's eye used for Biology Class in some Singapore schools. The lesson on eye structure has no impact on many students unless the teacher can make the lesson "alive". 

This is extremely difficult for a Singapore teacher who is usually overburdened with administrative and other duties and a large class of forty pupils. In some schools, the Biology class students are not the cream of the crop and are not motivated to excel in academic studies. Therefore, it will be the rare teacher who can give his or her best to the "hopeless" lazy students who may even smoke and distract everybody. 

Treat a corneal ulcer within 24 hours as it is a veterinary emergencyA corneal ulcer is painful and animals with ulcers often squint their eyes. It is wise to consult your veterinarian immediately as the ulcer may be a deep one or an infected one. When the animal continues to rub its eye, the corneal ulcer ruptures and the gelatinous aqueous or vitreous substance comes out. 

The eyeball collapses and the animal will have lost it vision. When this happens, there is very little the doctor can do except to cut out the eyeball.  If the bacteria goes into the aqueous and the vitreous, the eyeball becomes infected and is very painful. This infected eyeball may need to be removed by surgery too.   

Hence, it is always important to treat eye injuries as an emergency and consult your veterinarian. 


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Project 2010-0129
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