Guinea pigs have beautiful, dark eyes that compliment their little noses and tiny paws. These beautiful eyes are usually problem free but occasionally you may run into an issue with them and have to take them to see their vet.
Guinea Pig Eye Diseases
There are a plethora of diseases that affect the eyes of guinea pigs but some are seen more often than others in the vet clinic.
Corneal Ulcers - Sometimes eyes get scratched or irritated by hay, hair, or even after a struggle with another guinea pig. These scratches or irritations can cause a defect on the cornea of your guinea pig's eye known as a corneal ulcer. An ulcer is a painful defect and may cause a bit of cloudiness or redness to the eye. Your cavy may paw at the hurt eye, keep his eye closed, or even rub it on the ground. The pain may cause him to stop eating and even develop ileus if it is really bad. Corneal ulcers may be treated with special eye ointments. Some of these ointments are antibiotics and some are made specifically to heal ulcers. If the ulcer is really bad or hasn't healed after the use of some medications your vet may draw some of your guinea pig's blood, centrifuge it, and use the serum that is produced as eye drops to help the ulcer heal. If the ulcer still hasn't healed, a grid keratotomy may need to be performed on the eye to encourage healing. This procedure is done under anesthesia.
Eye Infections - If an eye gets irritated for some reason or exposed to excessive amounts of bacteria or fungal spores it can get infected. Bacterial and fungal infections can affect one or both eyes and need to be treated with the appropriate antibacterial or antifungal medications. Your cavy may have hair loss around his eye, redness (conjunctivitis), discharge, swelling, and even keep his eye shut. Your exotics vet may choose to treat the eye without obtaining a culture first but if it does not resolve, or if you want to do the best thing possible for your guinea pig, a bacterial and/or fungal culture should be obtained. The culture will tell your vet exactly what bacteria or fungus is growing around the eye and will allow him to pick the correct treatment for your pet. If your guinea pig has a lot of discharge from his eye and it is crusting shut you can use a warm, damp, cloth to gently clean it until you can see your vet.
Overgrown Teeth - Guinea pigs have incisors (front teeth) with roots that can grow into the nasal-lacrimal duct and cause their eyes to weep. An easy test to see if there is a blocked nasal-lacrimal duct is to use eye stain and wait to see if it leaks out of your guinea pig's nose. Normal ducts flow through the nose and allow drainage but if that duct is blocked or clogged excessive drainage will occur from the eye.
Tumors - Sometimes tumors will develop behind the eyes of guinea pigs. These tumors can cause an eye to bulge, swell, and be very uncomfortable. Sometimes radiographs (x-rays) will show a suspected tumor on the skull and your vet may want to send the radiographs off to be read by a radiologist to confirm it. But if nothing shows on an x-ray an MRI may be recommended.
Many other problems can arise with your pet guinea pig's eyes but regardless of the issue, if you think something is wrong with your little friend make an appointment with your exotics vet as soon as possible.