Eye Problems in a Boxer (Dog)

By Betty Lewis

The boxer cuts a fine form, with his muscular build and distinguished face, that's a bit at odds with his playful personality. Affectionate, loyal and outgoing, he's a popular choice for families. However, despite his many positive qualities, the boxer has a number of health issues he's prone to developing, including a couple of eye problems.

The Cornea's Structure

Boxers are vulnerable to a couple of corneal diseases, so it's helpful to understand what makes up the cornea. The front of your boxer's eye is covered by a clear membrane known as the cornea. You can't see them, but the membrane is composed of three layers: the epithelium, or outer layer; the stroma in the middle, which is the cornea's supportive tissue; and Descemet's membrane, the deepest corneal layer.

Corneal Ulcers

When a few cornea's outer layers erode, your pup has a corneal erosion or abrasion. When the erosion extends into the stroma, he has a corneal ulcer. Symptoms include a cloudy appearance to the eye and an attempt to rub the eye with a paw or on a surface -- this is a very painful condition for a dog. He'll also likely keep his eye closed and may have discharge in the corner of his eye and on his face. Trauma can cause corneal ulcers, but the boxer is prone to them through the inherited condition epithelial dystrophy, which is a weakening of the cornea. Depending on the extent of the ulceration, antibiotic drops may be used or surgery may be necessary to protect the eye and allow it to heal.

Corneal Dystrophies

Corneal dystrophy isn't uncommon in dogs, including the boxer. This inherited condition may affect any of the cornea's layers in both eyes. In epithelial corneal dystrophy, the formation of the outer layer's cells are affected; vision is still normal, though the cornea may have white or gray rings on the cornea. Stromal corneal dystrophy is similar, though the vision may be reduced as the cornea becomes more opaque. When the cornea swells with fluid, it results in blisters on the cornea, the condition known as endothelial corneal dystrophy. The boxer is particularly prone to epithelial corneal dystrophy, which can lead to repeated superficial corneal erosions that take longer to heal. Generally, corneal dystrophies aren't treated unless the dog's vision becomes impaired, though sometimes medication or surgery are necessary.

Prolapsed Gland of the Third Eyelid: Cherry Eye

Like all dogs, your boxer has three eyelids, the third of which is located in the corner of each eye. Normally, you don't see this eyelid, which houses a tear gland and helps him make tears. Occasionally the gland will come out of its position and swell, giving your pup a red eye. There's no known cause for cherry eye, though vets suspect weak tissue connecting the gland to the surrounding eye tissue is responsible for the prolapsed gland. Treatment ranges from anti-inflammatories to surgical replacement or removal of the gland.