Occular (eye) injury is unfortunately a common phenomenon in pets. Proptosis, one of many eye injuries common to animals, is when the eye is forced out of the eye socket. If proptosis occurs it is an emergency that requires immediate response, the eye must be placed back into its eye socket by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Whenever your pet is showing signs of a health issue, your first step is to contact your primary care veterinarian. If it is indicated that your pet may suffer from a trauma-induced proptosis or another serious condition, a veterinary specialist is available at an ExpertVet certified or affiliated hospital.
Dog bites, cat claws, and car accidents are common traumas that may cause proptosis. Flat-faced dogs, such as Pugs, Shih Tzus, and Pekingese, are particularly susceptible to proptosis. The force of trauma necessary to proptose the eye in nonbrachycephalic (non-flat-faced) dog breeds such as Labradors, Border Collies, Beagles, and most cats is substantial and usually associated with severe intraocular, facial, skull, or central nervous system trauma.
Once your pet is stable after the trauma, they will be anesthetized for surgery where a veterinarian will replace the globe in the eye socket. After the eye is repositioned and the eyelid margins are pulled over the globe, temporary sutures are placed and usually left in place for about seven to 28 days. These sutures are usually removed in a staged fashion as swelling diminishes. Post-operative medication will likely be prescribed to prevent possible infections.
The prognosis for retaining vision in the affected eye is dependent on the severity of the trauma, your pet's breed, and how quickly the eye was treated after the trauma. In many cases, the chance of retaining vision is poor but the globe (the eye itself) will be saved. Owners may worry about their pets that lose vision in the displaced eye; however, dogs and cats are very capable of living a full life with one functioning eye.