Storm has had Ehrlichia (tick disease) for years, but it hasn't been symptomatic (intermittent limping) since 2009 after we treated with Doxycycline. We do believe the Ehrlichia was the cause of her auto immune dry eye that she's had since 2009. The dry eye basically means her immune system attacked her tear ducts so she doesn't make tears like she's supposed to. In fact she registers less than ten on a tear test and dogs are supposed to be over 15.
The dry eye caused a corneal ulcer in 2009 which we treated for and resulted in a corneal scar which you can see as a cloudy spot on her pupil, but doesn't cause discomfort. The dry eye wasn't diagnosed until after the corneal ulcer was treated and it does cause a lot of discomfort. Sorry this whole back history is so complicated, but I do want to keep a record of this sort of thing. That's part of what blogging is for. :)
So the point of this long drawn out story is that I noticed a red blood spot in her right eye (the one with the dry eye and scar). I thought it was from trauma because she'd recently ran around in the woods where she could have gotten a limb in the eye. I also noticed that both eyes had been getting cloudy. Then I noticed red spots in her other eye. At that point I decided she needed to see a vet.
So we went yesterday. The vet said the cloudiness is cataracts. First sign that my baby is getting old *sniff sniff*. Everyone still thinks she's two year old. At ten years old I guess cataracts aren't that uncommon. :) I hope they are slow to develop though, because I don't want her to lose her eyesight. We will adapt though if she does.
The blood spots are what's called corneal neovascularization. Long word right? The way he explained it is that Neo means new and vascularization (according to an online dictionary because I can't remember how he described it) is the process of becoming vascular; also : abnormal or excessive formation of blood vessels (as in the retina or on the cornea). Basically since she has dry eye the cornea doesn't stay moist like it needs to so it grows blood vessel endings to nourish the eye and when she rubs it they get irritated and the blood spreads causing the red spots I see on the surface of the eye (cornea). I hope that makes sense.
He said the blood vessels don't hurt or cause any damage and they are probably permanent. He said they also don't affect her vision, although of course the cataracts will. So what I learned at this vet visit (aside from a lot of information about the eye) is that she needs to stay on the Cyclosporine drops (about $30 for 2 ounces ahh!!!) for the rest of her life to prevent further damage to the eye. He also told me I can use over the counter tear gel (not drops) for humans to help when her eye is irritated. The gel lasts longer so it's more effective. So she's okay. It's just one of those auto immune things you have to maintain, but can't cure. I'm familiar with auto immune disorders with my own thyroid so it's something we will deal with. I'm just glad it wasn't something more serious that would require surgery or something.
Oh and to top off the vet bill I also ran over a huge chunk of metal in the road (couldn't avoid it) which totally destroyed my less than two year old $100 tire. *cries* It never fails when you make money (got a bonus at work) then **** happens to make you spend it (so much for the new freezer). Sigh. I'm still happy though because my baby girl is okay. :)