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1-Year Old Chihuahua’s Eye Pops Out

April 14, 2010
Beautiful tan short-haired 1-year-old chihuahua loses his eye after a car door hits him on the head

This soulful tan chihuahua gazes at the camera with his good left eye. The spot where his right eye used to be is now a line of stitches holding the empty lids together.

Chihuahua Versus Car Door

Chi Chi’s head ran into an open car door.  His right eye popped out of the socket.  When this happens, sometimes, it is mild and the optic nerve running in to the center back of the eye is only stretched, not ripped, and sight is preserved.  In Chi-Chi’s case, the nerve ripped.

Why Won’t That Eyeball Just Go Back In?

Once the eyeball slips out from the eye socket and in front of the eyelids, the lids usually form a tight band behind the eye, preventing it from easily sliding back in.  In you take a dog (or cat) directly to the vet right away, under sedation, your pet’s eyelids can undergo a small release incision, the eyeball is replaced, and then some stitches tighten the eyelids so they can hold the eye globe in place.

Eye Problems Require Immediate Veterinary Attention

If you wait at all, the muscles and conjunctiva (the tissues around the eye, like the mucus membranes and the “whites of the eye” start to swell up.  Once swollen, they are much more difficult to replace into the eye socket.

Chi Chi’s family did not know what to do when the accident happened, and they waited until the regular vet office opened in the morning.  If your dog has an accident like this at night, call your vet, or find an emergency animal hospital right away!

Chihuahua Needs Emergency Eye Surgery

Chi Chi sat calmly on the examination table, like nothing bothered him.  He never whimpered.  Never cried.  Never quivered or acted nervous.  What an amazing Chihuahua!

Chi Chi’s eye already looked swollen, it was blind, and an infection had stared.  He needed enucleation surgery.

Enucleation is a fancy term for removing the eye.  The center or heart of something is the nucleus and the e- on the front of the word means “to remove” or “take away.”

Given Proper Emergency Attention, Eyes Usually Heal Well

While it seems gross to even talk about surgery on the eye, you’d be surprised how resilient your eyes really are.  Of course, our mothers all warned us not to run with sharp objects or we’d “poke out an eye.”  Moms were correct.  But many eye problems heal much more readily than we imagine.

Chi Chi’s surgery went well.  He wore a big, ugly head bandage for 12 hours to prevent swelling of the eye socket contents.  Then, when the nurses removed the bandage, he looked comfortable.

tan chihuahua has his eye surgically removed, and a line of stitches holds the eyelids closed.

Chihuahua after enucleation surgery

Painkillers are Key

Be certain your Chihuahua receives plenty of pre-op, intra-op, and post-op painkillers.  Chi Chi stayed on a morphine drip overnight and into the next day.  He was a little “out of it” but he didn’t experience pain and terror from the pain when he woke up from surgery.

How Will My Dog Get Along Without His Eye?

Dogs can get along just fine with one eye.  In fact, many blind dogs do great with no eyes.  Dogs rely on their sense of smell so heavily, Doc Truli wonders if dogs make a “mind map” of what they smell, the way humans make a view of the world from what we see and hear.  Maybe science and research will find these answers someday soon.

(If you’re thinking about a major in college, experimental psychology is the major that deals with the science of the senses.  Check out the Sense of Smell Institute and Serendip’s super geeky Experimental Psychology discussions.)

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