Are Maltese Eye Problems Serious?

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While they’re considered a relatively healthy breed, like many purebred dogs, Maltese are prone to certain health conditions, including a small number of eye-related issues.

Here are some of the most common Maltese eye problems, their symptoms, and possible treatments.

maltese eye problems

Common Maltese Eye Problems

Although there aren’t many potential eye problems that can affect Maltese dogs, there are a few ones that have been reported more frequently in this breed.

Always consult with a veterinarian if you notice any changes or concerns regarding your Maltese’s eyes.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a degenerative, non-painful eye disease that specifically affects the retina. This disorder is genetic and its symptoms usually start with decreased vision in low light or at night.

Unfortunately, there aren’t currently any effective treatments for retinal atrophy in dogs.

That said, there are ways to manage the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease such as supplementing your Maltese’s diet with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help support retinal health.

RELATED: Can I Give My Dog Omega-3 For Humans?

Ocu-GLO is a popular supplement that contains these essential nutrients and is often recommended for dogs with retinal atrophy.

Ocu-GLO Vision Supplement for Small Dogs (45ct)

Aberrant cilia

Aberrant cilia is a condition where an extra set of eyelashes grow along the eyelid margin.

For some dogs, this is completely harmless and doesn’t cause any discomfort or vision problems. However, in other cases, the abnormal cilia can rub against the surface of the eye and lead to corneal ulcers or abrasions.

If your Maltese is experiencing excessive tearing, eye swelling, or any other signs of eye discomfort (for example, rubbing or pawing at the eye), have them checked by a veterinarian.

Treatment options include electroepilation, where a small electrical current is used to remove the problematic eyelashes permanently, or cryotherapy, which uses extreme cold to freeze and destroy the hair follicles.

In the case of corneal ulcers, the veterinarian may prescribe antibiotic eye drops to prevent or treat any infections.

Tear stains

Ah, tear stains — the bane of many Maltese dog owners.

These reddish-brown streaks under the eyes can be frustrating and unsightly, but what are they really?

Contrary to popular belief, tear stains aren’t just a cosmetic issue. They can also indicate underlying health problems like blocked tear ducts, allergies, or eye infections.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for tear stains, it’s crucial to address the root cause rather than just trying to mask the symptom.

Sure, regular grooming and cleaning can help minimize staining, but a holistic approach that also includes proper nutrition, supplements, and regular vet check-ups is necessary for long-term resolution.

Cataracts

Cataracts (often referred to as the “silent thief of sight”) occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, leading to blurry vision or even total blindness.

This condition is especially common in older Maltese dogs, but can also occur in younger ones due to genetics, trauma to the eye area, or underlying health issues such as diabetes.

You may notice your dog squinting, bumping into objects, or having difficulty navigating familiar spaces. They might also have visible cloudiness or a white film over their eye or experience a change in their behavior or activity level.

Although there’s no known cure for cataracts in dogs, various treatment options may help manage it and slow down its progression.

One common approach is using NAC (N-Acetylcysteine) eye drops, which work by replenishing glutathione, an antioxidant that helps protect the lens of the eye from damage caused by oxidative stress.

Plush Paws Products Advanced Lanosterol Solution + NAC | Dog Eye Care | Therapeutic Pet Eye Lubricating Drops for Cataracts | Promotes Vision Health & Dryness Relief in Pets (10 Milliliters)

Additionally, providing a balanced diet rich in vitamins A, C, and E can also benefit dogs with cataracts.

If the cataracts worsen and affect the Maltese’s vision significantly, surgery may be considered. Cataract surgery involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial one to restore sight.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is caused by increased pressure within the eye due to a buildup of fluid. Aside from being extremely painful, this can lead to irreversible damage to the optic nerve and vision loss if left untreated

While glaucoma can be hereditary in some dogs, it can also be secondary to other eye conditions and may occur as a result of trauma or infection.

Since it’s considered a medical emergency, be sure to seek veterinary care as soon as possible if your Maltese displays any of these symptoms: redness in the eye, cloudiness or bluish tint, bulging of the eye, and changes in pupil size.

Treatment options for glaucoma depend on its severity and the underlying cause. Typically, eye drops or oral medications are prescribed to lower pressure levels.

Sometimes, surgery may be necessary to alleviate fluid buildup within the eye and restore proper drainage.

In summary

Luckily, Maltese eye problems aren’t very common. Yet, there’s a small risk that your Maltese may develop eye issues at some point so keep an eye out for any signs or symptoms that may seem out of the ordinary.

Remember — when it comes to your dog’s eyes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are essential to catch any eye issues early on and prevent them from becoming more serious.

About the author

Li-ran Bukovza

Li-ran believes that our dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He's fascinated by the dog-human bond and loves researching and writing about new pet trends. With the help of Richie (his trusty Maltese sidekick), he hopes to help as many people as possible understand the beautiful, complex world of canine companionship.