S. Sulochana suspects that her six-year-old pomeranian Meeghash, who is patiently standing beside her, has a tumour in the eye. “We noticed the discomfort when he continuously kept rubbing his eye during his bath,” she explains anxiously, standing outside the ophthalmology unit of the Madras Veterinary College, where a first-of-its-kind eye camp for animals was organised.
Owners of pet dogs, cats, birds and even a horse brought along their companion animals to get them screened for general ophthalmic examination as well as conditions such as cataract, glaucoma, corneal injury, and other infections and diseases of the eye.
The eye camp was held to commemorate 10 years of the establishment of the ophthalmic surgery unit in the hospital.
Among the animals that streamed in for the general screening was Joind Appeal, a horse which belongs to the City Police. “We suspected that there was some problem with one eye, but the doctors declared her healthy,” said the head constable who had accompanied it.
Inaugurating the camp, R. Prabhakaran, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, said that the unit which was set up cater to animals suffering from various ocular disorders, receives around 15-20 cases on an average every day, of which most are cataracts.
He said that over 200 major ophthalmic surgeries and over 400 minor procedures are performed each year, with the annual case load being between 5,000- 5,500 every year.
Over the past decade, the number of individuals owning pets has gone up considerably, he observed. The numbers of cases is also increasing because detection and awareness levels are higher, said Mr. Prabhakaran. A crocodile was operated for a tumour in the limb last week, he said.
Around 90 animals were tested for cataract and glaucoma on Thursday. “There was also a turtle which had corneal lesions. It is a common condition in animals living in water,” said C. Ramani, professor of surgery.
According to S.R. Srinivasan, Director of Clinics, Madras Veterinary College, though awareness among pet owners was growing, there was often some delay in bringing them in for medical attention, due to delays in detection. In additions to conditions such as corneal ulcer, glaucoma and conjunctivitis, allergy-related conditions were also common.
Diabetes though detected, is not wide-spread in dogs, he said. Recovery time, he said, was comparable to that of humans. “Animals which have more contact time with humans recover faster,” he said.
Simon Peterson-Jones and Bryden Stanley, experts from Michigan State University, were among those at the eye camp. S.A. Asokan, Dean, Madras Veterinary College was also present.