6 Common Yorkie Eye Problems – Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Written by Dr. Marcelle Landestoy, DVM

yorkie eye problems

It can be upsetting to watch your little Yorkie stumble on objects or lie helplessly in pain due to an eye problem.

Yorkie’s eyes are sensitive, and unfortunately, they can be prone to several issues over time. So, what can you do to help?

Common Yorkie eye problems include dry eye syndrome, entropion, and cataracts. Other than being extremely painful, such conditions can lead to partial or permanent blindness in your dog if not given immediate attention. The good news is, most eye diseases affecting a Yorkie are manageable at home.

As a licensed veterinary doctor, I’ll explain how each of the following six Yorkie eye problems develops, the symptoms you should look for, and how your vet will likely treat the condition. 

Cataracts

cataracts in Yorkies

A cataract is an opaque cloudy formation that affects the eye lens. The condition is common in both humans and dogs.

It typically develops gradually to the point of affecting the vision if not diagnosed in time. 

This condition typically affects one eye at a time. It is very common in elderly dogs, with the affection rate in older dogs corresponding to that in humans.

According to the National Eye Institute, over half of the elderly population (above 80 years) in the US have suffered cataracts or undergone surgery to remove cataracts.

Causes and Symptoms

A cataract starts when eye proteins form clumps preventing the retina from receiving images sent from the lens.

Though prevalent in older dogs, cataracts can also affect younger Yorkies. 

There are three types of eye cataract in Yorkies:

  • Senile cataracts found in old age
  • Juvenile-cataract affecting Yorkies below five years
  • Hereditary or congenital

A membrane develops on top of the eye lens when cataract attacks and may spread to both eyes.

This swollen cloudy membrane can appear overnight in Yorkies when infected.

The top three common causes of cataracts in a Yorkie are old age, diabetes, and hereditary factors. 

Other causes might include:

  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Trauma
  • High concentration of toxins
  • Reduced blood calcium
  • Other birth defects

Symptoms of cataract in a Yorkie include:

  • Poor vision in dim light
  • More water intake for diabetic dogs
  • Strange actions like bumping into objects and walls

Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

A cataract in a Yorkshire Terrier is treatable through surgery by placing a pair of artificial lenses in the pupil.

However, the procedure might not help where a cataract has induced glaucoma or causes retinal detachments that damage the eyes’ rear parts.

To prevent this condition from affecting your Yorkie, avoid exposing it to radiation and harmful toxins in food and always feed your Yorkie a healthy diet as per a veterinarians’ recommendations.

Diabetic Yorkies may require special care to stay safe from cataract infection.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Also referred to as Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), dry eye syndrome is caused by aqueous tear film deficiency in the lid’s linings and the eye’s surface.

This causes drying and inflammation of the cornea.

Causes and Symptoms

Dry eye syndrome in Yorkies is caused by lack of proper nutrition, dehydration, drug side effects (which are very common), and viral eye infections.

A Yorkie who had previously suffered canine distemper, arthritis, conjunctivitis, eye trauma, or had anesthesia administration is likely to suffer from dry eye syndrome.

Diabetes is also another contributing factor of dry eye syndrome in a Yorkie.

Symptoms of a dry eye syndrome in a Yorkie include:

  • Dull eyes
  • Hypersensitivity to light
  • Intense blinking
  • Squinting
  • Visible blood vessels
  • Brown or red eyes
  • Constant rubbing of eyes

Diagnosis and Treatment

Veterinarians advise using eye lubrication drops, but a surgical process is recommended in case of damaged or blocked tear ducts. 

Simple prevention for this condition involves:

  • Keeping your Yorkie’s eye areas clean.
  • Keeping it away from things that might injure its tear glands.
  • Adequately caring for your diabetic dog.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

pra yorkie

Progressive retinal atrophy in a Yorkie is the wasting away of the retina.

This is a hereditary eye problem that may occur alongside corneal dystrophy that also affects the cornea.

Causes and Symptoms

Progressive retinal atrophy and corneal dystrophy are the two major hereditary eye infections in Yorkies that will grow gradually as the dog ages and can render a dog permanently blind.

Symptoms for progressive retinal atrophy in a Yorkie include:

  • Impaired vision
  • Greenish eyes
  • Hesitance to move in the dark
  • Low alertness
  • Inability to walk upstairs
  • Cloudy eyes

Corneal dystrophy may display symptoms such as impaired vision and cloudy cornea.

Diagnosis and Treatment

These conditions will likely get worse with time. Unfortunately, there are no known treatments other than the recommended proper care to improve your Yorkies’ health.

This will include keeping their eyes clean and ensuring they are eating a healthy, balanced diet.

There is no specific prevention of these eye problems other than avoiding Yorkies’ breeds with a history of such conditions.

When buying a puppy from a breeder, you should expect to receive a complete health certificate for both parents, along with one for the puppy.

Some breeders also offer to replace the puppy if they turn out to have health issues in the future.

Entropion

Dogs eyes

The Droopy Eyelid Problem is when a dogs’ eyelids, especially the lower part, fold inward, causing friction between eyelashes and the eyeball.

This condition can be very uncomfortable even to humans.

Causes and Symptoms

Entropion is not among the most prevalent eye problems in Yorkies but may manifest in aging dogs.

Some causes include loose facial skin being exposed to environmental conditions, corneal ulceration, eye infections, eye trauma, and dry eyes.

Symptoms of entropion in a Yorkie may range from:

  • Eye discomfort and irritation
  • Eye inflammation and infection
  • Eyelashes rubbing against the eye surface
  • Droopy eyelid
  • Watery eyes

Diagnosis and Treatment

In case of moderate symptoms, supportive care is the best treatment you can give to your Yorkie.

Keep the area clean and try to prevent the dog from rubbing.

For more severe cases that include most of the above symptoms, the only option would be eyelid surgery.

In this situation, the vet will make a small incision, securing the affected area to sit properly around the eyes. 

Eye infections and inflammation may be managed by applying eye drops. One sure way to prevent your Yorkie from entropion is to avoid abrupt weight loss on the dog.

Inflammation and Infection

Yorkie

Just as the name suggests, eye inflammation and infection involve swelling, which may destroy eye tissues and cause poor vision or sight loss.

Causes and Symptoms

Inflammation and infection of a Yorkies’ eyes may be caused by health problems such as allergies, Lyme diseases, fever, or Brucellosis.

Long hairs on a Yorkies’ face or foreign elements entering the eye can also cause eye inflammation and infections.

Common symptoms to watch out for in a Yorkie include:

  • Red or blue eyes
  • Excessive blinking
  • Watery eyes
  • Dull iris
  • Light sensitivity

Diagnosis and Treatment

This condition is best addressed by a vet who will analyze and determine if other underlying eye problems could have caused the condition (if the above symptoms don’t show).

In such a case, a vet may need to carry out blood tests before administering any medication.

The most common treatment for eye inflammation is anti-inflammatory eye drops.

Still, you should not use them before examining the dog to be sure of the condition.

This condition is preventable by improving the hygiene of your Yorkshire Terrier.

Make sure the Yorkie’s surrounding is clean to avoid allergy triggers and keep the eye areas clean at all times.

Conclusion

Keeping your Yorkshire Terrier’s eyes and the surrounding area clean is one of the best ways to keep them healthy, along with a healthy diet and frequent at-home checks.

Sadly, some conditions are hereditary and age-related.

In this case, you will need to provide them with the best possible care to improve their lifestyle and consult with your vet for symptom-easing measures. 

Schedule an eye exam at least once per year to detect any issues as early as possible, adding more frequent checks as your dog ages.

YORKIE

Sources

  • Yorkshire Terry Guide: Top Yorkie Eye Diseases to Know
  • Calvert Animal Hospital: Yorkies Common Diseases
  • Healthline: Things to Know About Cataracts

Click here to read my post about common general yorkie health issues

Marcelle Landestoy

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