It's not as bad as it looks, and now we think we know what's going on. Darla had begun bleeding from her eyes during the process of administering the course of topical medications. At first we couldn't tell where the blood was coming from, because it would just starting running down from the corners of her eyes. Her eyeballs seemed fine, and we eventually determined the bleeding was from the eyelids themselves. But why?
I emailed that photo and others to the ophthalmologist in Burlington, Dr. Vivian Jamieson, and her vet tech Rachel, early yesterday morning. (They were off Monday.) An hour later Rachel called and put Dr. Jamieson on the line. In her 30 years of practice, she said she'd never seen anything like this before. I said, "Well, we always like to give our veterinarians something new and different." She was worried that the bleeding was from the corneal suture sites, but I assured her that the eyeballs looked fine, we saw no bleeding from those locations, and that Darla wasn't squinting and tearing (which are signs of pain and discomfort with the eye). Indeed, once the bleeding stopped -- and it always did, usually about 30 minutes after giving her the drops -- she looked quite normal, and she held her eyes open. They were bright and clear.
After some discussion, she concluded it was probably the glaucoma medications that were causing a reaction of some sort with her eyelid tissue. Now, this is a problem because in the post-op phase there is always the risk of pressure spikes, which is why glaucoma meds are on the roster. And in one test on Darla last week, Dr. Jamieson found that the drainage angles in her eyes were constricted, which meant she was already at somewhat higher risk for glaucoma in the future. Darla isn't pre-ordained to develop glaucoma later, but it does mean this is something that needs careful and sustained monitoring, and that Darla might need to stay on glaucoma meds as a preventative measure long-term if her pressures begin climbing.
In the meantime, we have bleeding eyes to deal with. So Dr. Jamieson decided to have us hold off on administering the glaucoma medications and see if the bleeding stops. The key to being able to do this was our ability to check her eye pressures, which we can do because we have the diagnostic tool, the Tono-Pen. Dr. Jamieson asked me to start checking her pressures within six hours of her last glaucoma medications, and to report our results to her. Alayne took this photo of me testing Darla's eye pressures yesterday evening:
The great news: Normal pressures! I tested her eyes again this morning and we still had normal pressures. So this was a real relief. Rachel told me today they were very happy to hear it and that we should continue to withhold the glaucoma meds and monitor her eye pressures daily.
I emailed Dr. Jamieson last night high-resolution images of Darla's eyes showing the corneal suture sites, so she could see for herself how clean and intact they appeared. I also sent her a photo of Darla as she normally looks, with her eyes wide-open and comfortable.
It appears that Darla is simply having an extremely odd and rare reaction to some eye drops. If she does develop glaucoma in the future, we may be in a pickle, but for now, Darla says, "hold the pickle, just give me a cookie."