Boston Terriers With Glaucoma – What You Need To Know

If your Boston’s eye is red or painful, you should contact a veterinarian right away.

This could be a sign that your Boston Terrier has glaucoma, a serious eye condition consisting of elevated pressure within the eye that can lead to permanent blindness if not promptly treated.

Boston Terriers With Glaucoma - What You Need To Know

Glaucoma is considered a true emergency and a few hours could make a difference in your Boston Terrier maintaining their vision or being permanently blind.

A Complete Guide To Boston Terrier Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a common condition seen in Boston Terriers. Bostons have one of the highest rates of glaucoma among any dog breed (see details).

It is important to become educated on the most common signs and symptoms of glaucoma so you can promptly get to a veterinarian if you notice any of these issues.

Treatment for glaucoma is most successful when done early. Early and aggressive treatment leads to a better prognosis for glaucoma.

Boston Terriers With Glaucoma - What You Need To Know

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a condition that occurs when the pressure in the eye elevates to dangerous levels. This is called elevated intraocular pressure (IOP).

When the pressure in the eye increases, this can lead to extreme pain.

Glaucoma is a medical emergency because if the pressure in the eye remains elevated for too long, this can cause damage to the nerves in the eye leading to irreversible blindness.

The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists reports that glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in dogs.

What Causes Glaucoma In Boston Terriers?

There is fluid within the eye called aqueous humor. This fluid plays an important role in the eye and is always being produced and drained out of the eye.

If the place where the fluid in the eye drains becomes clogged, this can lead to fluid build-up within the eye. It is similar to a kitchen drain being clogged up, but the faucet continues to run. Eventually, you are going to get a build-up and overflow of water in the sink.

When the fluid in the eye can’t drain normally, it begins to build up pressure within the eye. Eventually, the pressure gets too high, becomes extremely painful, and can even cause your Boston to go blind.

There are two main types of glaucoma in dogs: primary glaucoma and secondary glaucoma. Read more about these two types below.

Primary Glaucoma

With primary glaucoma, dogs are typically born with genetic abnormalities within their eyes that can predispose them to develop glaucoma.

Primary glaucoma seems to be very common in the following dog breeds:

Boston Terriers With Glaucoma - What You Need To Know

Secondary Glaucoma

Secondary glaucoma happens when a different condition leads to glaucoma. Uveitis or inflammation within the eye can lead to cells clogging up the area where the eye fluid normally drains.

This type of glaucoma can also occur if there is cancer within the eye. Cancer cells, blood cells, or inflammatory cells can all clog up the area where the eye fluid drains.

Want to learn more about cancer in Boston Terriers? Read this article, Are Boston Terriers Prone To Cancer? 7 Signs To Watch For.

At What Age Can Boston Terriers Get Glaucoma?

The average age of diagnosis of glaucoma in dogs is between 4 and 10 years of age. 

That being said, it is possible that your Boston could have glaucoma if they are younger or older than this. This is just an average.

Glaucoma most commonly affects middle-aged Boston Terriers and is the leading cause of blindness in middle-aged dogs.

What Dog Breeds Tend To Have Glaucoma Issues? 

Boston Terriers seem to be more prone to glaucoma than most dog breeds.

Gelatt and MacKay, researchers from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine reported how common glaucoma was in several pure-bred dogs.

These are the dog breeds that these researchers found to have the highest rates of glaucoma. In parentheses next to the dog breed is the prevalence of glaucoma in that particular dog breed.

Boston Terriers With Glaucoma - What You Need To Know

Symptoms Of Glaucoma In Boston Terriers

Glaucoma can cause many different eye symptoms within Boston Terriers. The most common symptoms of glaucoma in Boston Terriers are redness of the eye and eye pain.

Here is a list of the most common symptoms of glaucoma in Boston Terriers:

  • Eye Redness
  • Painful Eye
  • Blindness
  • Enlarged Or Swollen Eye
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Blue Or Cloudy Eye
  • Watery Eye
  • Lethargy

Is Glaucoma Painful To My Boston Terrier?

Yes, glaucoma is an extremely painful condition. Many times your Boston will shy away from you because their eye hurts.

They may rub the eye or squint the eye because it is painful.

If your Boston gets treated for glaucoma with eye drops and the pressure returns to normal, then the pain from glaucoma will go away.

Will Glaucoma Make My Boston Terrier Go Blind?

Glaucoma can make your Boston Terrier go blind especially if not treated promptly.

When the pressure builds up in the eye, this can cause damage to the nerve structures within the eye that are vital for vision. Once these structures become too damaged, your Boston will go permanently blind.

It is estimated that even when promptly treated within 24 hours of symptoms of glaucoma appearing, only half of the dogs will regain vision.

That is why it is crucial to get your dog to a veterinarian immediately if you notice signs of glaucoma. This is considered a medical emergency because prompt treatment can mean the difference between permanent blindness or saving the vision.

Want to speak with a veterinarian right now? Check out Boston Terrier Society’s speak with a vet tab now, Speak With A Veterinarian.

Boston Terriers With Glaucoma - What You Need To Know

Diagnosing Glaucoma In Boston Terriers

If you suspect that your Boston Terrier has glaucoma, you should visit a veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian will check the pressure within the eye using an instrument called a tonometer.

The tonometer will be able to detect if the pressure in your Boston’s eye is too high.

Normal eye pressures range from 12 to 25 mmHg. If your Boston’s eye pressure is higher than 25 mmHg, then your Boston likely has glaucoma.

How Do You Treat Glaucoma In Boston Terriers?

Initially, your veterinarian will probably recommend the medical management of glaucoma. This consists of frequent administration of topical eye medications until the pressure within the eye is within a normal range.

Once your Boston has been diagnosed with glaucoma, they will need topical eye medications for the rest of their life.

The most common eye medications used for glaucoma include:

If medical therapy fails and your dog’s eye pressure remains high despite the frequent administration of eye drops, your veterinarian may recommend surgery.

Some surgical procedures can be performed by veterinary ophthalmology specialists to reduce the pressure within the eye. 

Also, if the eye becomes too uncomfortable or your vet determines that your dog has irreversible blindness, they may recommend removal of the eye, also called enucleation.

Boston Terriers With Glaucoma - What You Need To Know

What Is The Price Range Of Surgery For Bostons With Glaucoma?

The price range is variable depending on the procedure performed. Advanced procedures performed by veterinary ophthalmologists like cyclophotocoagulation or gonioimplants can range from $1600-4500 on average.

Eye removal, also known as enucleation, can range from $500-2000.

For a more accurate estimate for surgery for your Boston, I recommend consulting with your veterinarian or speaking with your local veterinary ophthalmologist.

Need to save 25% off your veterinarian bill? If your vet participates in Pet Assure you can save 25% immediately and pre-existing conditions do not matter, go here to learn more, Pet Assure.

Can You Treat Glaucoma For Your Boston Terrier At Home?

There are no safe or effective home remedies for glaucoma in dogs. If you do not seek treatment right away for glaucoma, your Boston Terrier could become permanently blind.

Only veterinary prescribed eye medications or surgery can treat glaucoma, so if your Boston has symptoms of glaucoma you should visit your veterinarian immediately.

Once your veterinarian has diagnosed glaucoma and has controlled the elevated pressures within the eye, they will send you home with eye drops to use on your Boston. You will be using glaucoma eye drops at home for your Boston for the rest of their life.

Does Glaucoma Get Worse Or Get Better Over Time?

Without treatment, glaucoma will only get worse over time. It is kind of like a clogged sink. Once you have an initial problem, the problem only gets worse over time because the clog gets worse.

With prompt and aggressive treatment, glaucoma can get better over time. Glaucoma requires lifelong treatment and regular monitoring.

Boston Terriers With Glaucoma - What You Need To Know


Glaucoma is considered a medical emergency.

Glaucoma occurs when the pressure within your Boston’s eye becomes too high. The most common symptoms of glaucoma include eye redness and pain.

If your Boston has symptoms of glaucoma, it is important to visit your veterinarian immediately.

Time is of the essence when dealing with glaucoma. If treatment for glaucoma is delayed, your dog could go permanently blind in one or both eyes.

With prompt and aggressive treatment, your Boston may be able to be managed well with eye drops. If medical therapy is ineffective, your veterinarian may recommend surgery.


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Addie Reinhard, DVM

Addie Reinhard, DVM- Dr. Addie Reinhard is an experienced small animal veterinarian. She is a Boston Terrier lover and always enjoys caring for her Boston patients at the veterinary clinic. She is passionate about providing helpful educational resources to pet parents regarding animal diseases and preventative care. She lives in Lexington, KY with her husband, greyhound, and four cats.

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