Inside the eye (Day -285)

Vets and Eyes

Today I have been helping out on an Ophthalmology conference with an international expert on animal eyes, Professor Ron Ofri. Eye problems are something seen daily – yet can be extremely serious so I believe learning as much as I can about them is a good idea.

It was arranged to be accessible with stuff that can be taken into practice straight away, and through the day there was a focus on what as vets we can do. Some of it is simple such as testing if a cat is blind by following laser light (though have to be careful it is not a cat with a god complex!). There was only one surgery lecture and it was good revision – something they do teach really well at this university is surgery of the eye and eyelid!

One of the more interesting lectures for me was that of whether animals can see in color. It is a rather interesting question actually as a lot of people assume that animals can see, yet never question just how well they can see.

The question put forward was which of these have the best and worst sight: dog, horse or cat?

Surprisingly the answer was that the horse has the best sight, with the dog in the middle and then the cat with the worst sight.

Also interesting here is when you consider the field of vision. Imagine if you stand next to a horses head looking forward – you can see what is in front of you… yet the horse can see this, see you, and see what is behind you!

I completed my ophthalmology modules within uni last year– however one thing missed from this was instruction on how to use an ophthalmoscope. This was something that an exhibitor at the conference corrected with their explanations and demonstrations of several different types of ophthalmoscopes. This was made very interesting as he had in the past persuaded a person that modelled human eyes for ophthalmologists to practice on to make him some animal eyes with different pupil dilations.

The story of the dancing eyes….

snow-in-slovakia-vet-school-nystagmus

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Supreme Rabbit Food

I’ve been spending as much time as I can in surgery, this leaves me for very little else at the moment so apologies for the lack of updates. I’ve started quite a few posts but not quite finished them… It’s all a matter of time as I need to sleep at least a little now so that I can focus on what I am doing, and more importantly so if I am assisting my hands don’t shake.

What I really love about what I do is the unexpected. How your heart goes from 0 to 1000 in a split second…

It was lunchtime; I was the only person in clinic monitoring a patient after anaesthesia, whilst an owner was sitting with another dog after its anaesthetic which was a bit more alert and stable than my patient.

Suddenly the eyes of the other dog started flicking side to side crazily fast. Owner has gone pale. My brain has gone into auto drive.

My mind goes back to my reading, nystagmus jumps to my brain… The involuntary movement of eyes side to side otherwise known as dancing eyes…

Dog is breathing? Yes…

Dog has heart beat? Yes…

Are there muscle tremors? No…

Are pupils normal? Yes…

Was the patient here for neurosurgery? No….

Is it life threatening? No…

Does the owner talk English? No…

Is it positional nystagmus? Maybe…

Is it toxicological? Maybe…

Pharmacological? Potentially…

10 seconds have passed, I have a plan, and I breathe. I have time… I smile for the owner and say moment. My favourite word… When said calmly and confidently it has a big effect on an owner, it calms them to have someone in control. Even though I know nothing it is all about the appearance I’ve found. I wear a stethoscope, I am smiling, and I am not panicking. The owner does not panic either.

So I head to the staff room to grab the doctor that did the anaesthesia, and we find that moving the head from its side to straight decreases the nystagmus. It’s positional. Basically with the ear inside the skull are 3 little semicircular canals at right angles to each other, one is horizontal, one is vertical and one is at an 90 degree angle to this. These are the heads motion detectors, they know when the head is moving. If you focus on something and turn your head whilst still focusing on the same object these will keep your eyes looking at the object for as long as possible. It is why when you reach a certain point your eyes will seem to snap to the image in front of you.

Now these can be affected by the drugs we use, so in addition to changing the head position we gave a sedative to calm down the body whilst we waited for the dog to calm down again. With a little more time the body reached a state of balance again and the dog recovered uneventfully.

My biggest regret though is that I did not think to get a video of this, it really is one of the strangest things I have ever seen. Going by what the doctors said it is also pretty uncommon as well.