22 August, 2010
animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs & rabbits
A Fox Terrier has
an eye ulcer
Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First recorded: 11 February, 2002
22 August, 2010
Be Kind To Pets
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.
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
To make an appointment:
tel: +65 9668-6469, 6254-3326
Be Kind To Pets
All rights reserved. Revised: August 22, 2010
Toa Payoh Vets