Considering eye surgery at 15 years
Sorry it is long. My Harley Dog was 15 years old in April. In August of 2001 (10 years ago) he had cataract surgery and prosthetic lenses placed in both eyes. It made a tremendous difference to him him and his quality of life was greatly improved. He developed glaucoma in the right eye three years ago. Apparently this is not uncommon with prosthetics. The prosthetic lenses, over time, have gotten mineral deposits around them and Harley has once again lost his vision. His vision went in January but this time he is also deaf as he lost his hearing last fall. Without hearing, coping is more difficult. He right eye (the glaucoma one) is prone to infection. A couple of years ago his tear production was low in the glaucoma eye so we started him on lubricant drops (eyestil) and they worked but the pressure in that eye started to build. After discontinuing the eyestil the pressure returned to normal. His tear production was good for a while. In June Harley had problems with dry eyes so we started him on different lubricant drops. Last week his pressure was elevated when I had him at the vet due to an ulcer on the "good eye". He had not yet had his galucoma drops (Lumigan) that morning. After that appointment Harley went to Grandma's for a week as I had to go to a conference. When I came home this weekend I felt like the pressure was still a little elevated so yesterday I didn't give him the lubricant drops and last night it felt like the pressure was better. We went to the vet today and his pressure in the right eye is now normal. Harley's regular vet is on holidays and will be back on Monday but I do like the vet he has seen these last two times. When he was looking to see how the ulcer was healing he noticed that Harley's pupil in that eye does not seem to be constricting rather it is staying dilated (the ulcer is healing nicely) he would like to send Harley to an opthamologist in Calgary or Saskatoon.
I am very aware of changes in Harley's eye pressure. I can see slight changes and I can feel bulges sometimes that aren't visible. I have given him glycerine (as per vet's instructions) in emergency situations as I know it is faster acting than drops and too high of pressure for too long could equal losing the eye. Which is something that I hate the thought of. Today I asked the vet if it came to needing the eye removed would Harley, as a senior, be able to survive the surgery. The vet believes he would which is what made me ask the next question... If all geriatric pre-surgery tests would indicate that Harley should make it through surgery and the old prosthetics seem to be the cause of Harley's eye problems, would replacing the lenses be an option? Since he wants Harley to see an opthamologist anyway, I would have to see what he says. I know the surgery is expensive and I don't know if he would be a candidate again. My thought is that if having new lenses improves his quality of life because he might not have the infections, glaucoma.... all of that stuff that I would do it. Harley still gets excited when he smells other dogs around. Last week he stumbled across one of his toys and brought it to me and we played tug with it. I have baby gates at all my stairs because he follows along walls and then falls down the stairs if he gets to the openings. I said to the regular vet in June that I believe Harley would still jump up on the couch if he could see it and vet said there is no doubt in his mind that he would.
My mom thinks I am crazy and expecting the dog to be a puppy again. I don't think that is what I am doing. I think I am trying to make life as good as I can for the dog, I think the cost would be offset by the vet costs of the problems he has now, and I think he would be less dependent if he could see making it a win, win, win situation for everyone. If the vet says it would cause him more grief I would not consider it any further. Any thoughts, comments, advice, input????
I think with a 15 year old dog there is a lot to balance.
First, as mentioned, the risks of surgery, and if that is a risk that you think is worth taking. Any surgery is risky in a senior, but many seniors are pretty resilient.
The next is the money thing. I look at it this way. If, heaven forbid, something were to happen 3 or 6 months down the road, would you still be glad that you had the surgery done? Would having this surgery mean that if something comes up down the road, you would not have the finances available to address that?
For seniors, things can change pretty quickly. Some surprise us and live many many years longer, and others don't. I think that so much of these decisions are very personal, and you have to do what you think in your heart is right.
Best of luck,, in whatever you decide!
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