Cookie is a 9-year-old male neutered Bichon Frise who presented with a 1-month history of a slightly red eye. He is up-to-date on all vaccines and parasite testing and prevention, and has no pertinent medical history. The owner had been monitoring his eyes at home and had noted no pain, discharge, or irritation besides a very slight reddening, especially in the medial canthus (inside "corner") of the eye. There was no history of trauma or infection, and after using a special eye stain no cuts or ulcers were noted. He was started on topical antibiotics three times a day and a recheck was scheduled for 2 weeks. At this recheck, there was no improvement to the redness, and a very small slightly raised bump was noted on the sclera (white) of the eye at that medial canthus. At this point, the owner elected to go to a veterinary ophthalmologist (eye specialist) for further testing.
At the specialist, his eye was again tested for ulcers and none were found. His pressures were checked and were normal, eliminating glaucoma at this point. His tear production was tested and found to be normal as well. Two special pieces of equipment called a slit lamp and an ophthalmoscope were used to look all throughout the eye to be sure the retina and cornea were normal, that the vessels and nerves were normal, and that no masses or tumors were inside the eye that hadn't been located on the first two exams. Only the small bump in the medial canthus was noted. At this point, it was determined that Cookie had a disease called Nodular Granulomatous Episcleritis, or NGEK.
Many owners see a red eye in their pet and think allergies or infection, and often choose to wait it out. However, there are many other processes that can cause these very basic and similar symptoms. Some, like cancer and retinal problems, are things that no owner ever wants to hear. Some, like infections or cuts, can be treated and cured. And some, like NGEK, are neither life-threatening nor curable, but are manageable with proper and vigilant care. The eyes are a very important and vital part of our pets. Any changes noticed, including but not limited to redness, swelling, discharge, or itching, warrant a visit to your pet's veterinarian. Even something as simple as a small amount of redness could indicate a beginning disease process and truly isn't something you should just keep an eye on.