Hypopyon in dogs is not well known or fully understand by most owners, but it is a very real and dangerous disease.
If your dogs eyes have a dramatic color change, become white or yellow, or if they start to blink excessively, there is a very good chance that they have developed hypopyon.
Although this eye disease is often confused with lipid flares, it is considered much more serious and is usually the result of a symptom of a very serious ophthalmic disease.
Even though it can be treated, in most cases, there is still a chance that once your dog has it; they may go blind.
Hypopyon in dogs is the accumulation of white blood cells within the liquid of the front chamber of their eye referred to as the anterior.
These cells are released from blood vessels that have become inflamed and are located in the iris and the tissues behind the iris, called the ciliary body.
When inflammation of both of these eyes parts occurs, the vessels leak cells as well as protein into the anterior chamber.
If the quantity of the cells that are released is small, the accumulation in your dogs eyes will only cause a cloudiness or slight haze.
However, if it is excessive, it will actually fill up the bottom chamber of the eye entirely as gravity takes hold.
When this occurs, your dog has hypopyon, and the eyes instead of being just cloudy in appearance, will become either white or yellow in color.
In the most severe of cases, clumps of these cells may stick to the back of your dogs cornea, producing what appears to be tiny specks on the your dogs cornea.
Hypopyon in dogs is much more serious than what is referred to as Lipid flare; but lipid flare is almost always confused with hypopyon.
Hypopyon is an inflammatory breakdown of the blood-aqueous barrier in your dogs eye that allows for the entry of the blood cells into the chambers.
There is a chemical substance referred to as chemo-attractants that actually influences the migration of these cells and basically acts like a conveyor belt in their movement.
They settle only because of gravity and thus enter into the lower part of your dogs eye.
Conversely, lipid flares, even though it simulates hypopyon, are caused by a high concentration of lipids.
These are fatty substances in the cells in the thick watery substance between the eyes lens and the cornea.
Instead of a cell breakdown, it requires a breakdown of the blood-aqueous barrier as well as an elevation of the lipids in your dogs bloodstream.
This is the major reason it is cloudy only in appearance instead of appearing white or yellow.
Because hypopyon in dogs is considered to be much more of a treat to your dogs eyes, it is very helpful to understand the difference in the symptoms between hypopyon and lipid flare.
The reason for this is simple; they are quite different in nature.
The first symptom of hypopyon is the sudden change of color in your dogs eyes to a white or yellowish coloration within the anterior chamber.
Once this occurs, your dogs eyes will usually start to twitch or blink excessively until it becomes very apparent to you that something is terribly wrong.
However, this is only the beginning as the next symptom will be a very sudden and excessive production of tears in their eyes. This is than followed by a corneal swelling, referred to as Miosis.
Miosis is the constriction of the pupil, which than will almost always causes the iris to swell up as well.
Once these symptoms have occurred, your dogs vision may be so impaired they have become blind or are on the verge of going blind.
However, the symptoms of Lipid flares are not nearly as numerous or as severe.
The first sign is the milky or cloudy appearance in your dogs eyes that is than followed in a reduction in vision but usually not to the point that they have become blind.
There will also be mild twitching or blinking and a slight swelling of the cornea.
Vision loss, if there is any, will also be much milder and usually temporary.
The real key to telling the difference is in the amount of twitching or blinking that your dog does.
Hypopyon in dogs can develop in either eye that has been attacked by severe uveitis. Because of this, it is believed to the cause of a symptom of an underlying ophthalmic disease.
It is often the result of a bacterial infection or from some type of a systemic viral, fungal or parasitic infection that has attacked your dogs eye or eyes.
Severe corneal ulceration or eye tumors can also cause hypopyon to develop.
Lipid flare in your dog in most every case is the result of hyperlipidemia, which are abnormal levels of lipids in the blood stream.
Lipids are the fatty substance that is found in your dogs bloodstream and when they breakdown because a weak blood-aqueous barrier, it causes the flare.
It may also be the result of a destabilization in the blood-aqueous barrier itself. High levels of lipids circulate in your dogs bloods immediately after a meal, and as such, can easily be modified.
Treating hypopyon in dogs will require very aggressive treatment for the uveitis as the underlying cause.
In the vast majority of cases outpatient treatment is considered adequate, but all owners should understand that there is still a very significant chance your dog will lose their sight.
Lipid flare will also require treatment for the uveitis, but is usually much milder in form.
If your dog by chance is actually diagnosed with hyperlipidemia, you will need to immediately change their diet to one that is much lower in both fat as well as calories.
This helps to reduce the amount of fat that actually enters into their bloodstream.
The expected prognosis of Hypopyon in dogs will all depend on the underlying condition behind the main cause of the eye problem.
If the actual diagnosis is hypopyon, the prognosis is usually very guarded and you should prepare yourself for the fact that you dog may go blind.
You will know for sure in most cases within one to three day window. Lipid flare usually responds very favorably to the treatments within this time frame; hypopyon does not.