Dr. Kim Hsu: Providing Exceptional Eye Care for Pets
Even as little as ten years ago, pets just went blind and we accepted this, but with the advancements in medicine and technology, blinding diseases don’t have to be blinding anymore. – Kim Hsu, DVM, MSc, DACVO
Dr. Kimberly Hsu is a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist at BluePearl Pet Hospital in Malvern, PA.
Dr. Hsu on the Job
Dr. Hsu provides eye care for both cats and dogs. She uses high-tech instruments that allow her to see the tiny, delicate structures inside the eyes to treat various eye diseases in pets.
Dr. Hsu’s areas of special interest include:
- Retinal and corneal diseases
- Corneal ulcers
- Eyelid tumors
Types of Procedures
Retinal Detachment Surgery
Retinal detachment surgery, also referred to as retinal reattachment, is commonly performed on humans and is also available for animals. However, Dr. Hsu is one of only a handful of veterinary ophthalmologists in North America trained to perform this specialized surgery.
Retinal reattachment surgery is performed when the retina pulls away, or detaches, from the back of the eye, resulting in partial or total vision loss. There are many types of retinal detachment, but the type of detachment that can be surgically corrected usually involves a break or tear in the retina due to genetic or breed-related factors, or following cataract surgery. This type of detachment is often called “rhegmatogenous retinal detachment.” In such cases, surgery to reattach the retina should be performed as quickly as possible for the best chances of successful vision restoration.
During retinal reattachment surgery, Dr. Hsu surgically removes the gel-like substance in the eye known as the vitreous humor. In most patients with rhegmatogenous retinal detachment, this normally semi-solid or gel-like structure has liquefied. During surgery, a non-reactive synthetic gel (silicon oil) is instilled in the eye and acts like an artificial vitreous. The edges of the retina are then lasered to allow the edges to adhere.
Surgery generally involves a 3-day trip to Malvern, PA, for:
- Pre-operative assessment
- Retinal reattachment surgery
- 1-day post-operative recheck
Follow-up visits typically occur with your local veterinary ophthalmologist or through our BluePearl Malvern, PA hospital if the patient resides in the greater Philadelphia region.
Just like in humans, developing cataracts is a common side effect of the aging process for dogs and cats. And, just like with humans, our pets no longer have to suffer with this vision impairment.
A cataract is the clouding of the normally clear crystalline lens located behind the iris that is used for focusing, resulting in partial or total vision loss. Once a cataract forms, surgery is the only way to successfully restore vision. Anti-inflammatory eye drops can be administered to reduce the risk of collateral damage driven by cataract-induced inflammation, but unfortunately they do not dissolve cataracts or improve vision.
Cataract surgery, which is one of the most common procedures performed on humans, can also be used to remove cataracts in dogs and cats. The equipment and techniques used are similar to those used in human cataract surgery. In most cases, phacoemulsification or ultrasonic energy is used to remove the cloudy lens.
With this technique, an instrument about the size of an ink pen is inserted into a small incision in the cornea. Phacoemulsification uses tiny vibrations to soften and break up the cataract so it can be easily removed by suction. In most cases, an artificial lens is inserted into the eye to help improve the ability to focus.
Corneal Diseases and Corneal Ulcers
Corneal ulcers are sores or abrasions where the surface cells of the cornea, the clear outer wall of the eye, are now missing. A simple or superficial corneal ulcer is not unlike the scrape you might get from tripping and skinning your knee, but the cornea is a much thinner, more delicate tissue.
There are many types of corneal ulcers, which require different types of treatment. In some cases, the pet’s corneal ulcer may be associated with other abnormalities of the eye.
Good corneal health is important due to the significant effect of ulceration, inflammation, infection, degeneration and scarring on both vision and comfort.
Procedures Dr. Hsu performs for corneal disease and corneal ulcers include:
- Diamond burr debridement with bandage contact lens placement to stimulate healing of indolent, Boxer, or non-healing corneal ulcers
- Conjunctival and other graft surgeries to repair deep or ruptured corneal ulcers
- Thermal keratoplasty (a technique for reshaping the cornea) and Gunderson flap (replacing the damaged section of cornea with a section or “flap” of the patient’s own conjunctiva). procedures for corneal edema (swelling) associated with corneal endothelial degeneration (a condition in dogs that affects corneal clarity)
- Keratectomy (or excision) of feline corneal sequestrum, corneal cancers (neoplasms), etc.
Eyelid tumors can grow in both the inner and outer eyelid and can lead to:
- Painful corneal scratches and/or ulcers
While eyelid tumors in older dogs are often benign and slow-growing, the behavior and growth of different tumors can vary widely.
The treatment for tumors varies based on the type of cancer. Treatments include surgical excision, CO2 laser and, in rare cases, radical surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Dr. Hsu performs a number of different procedures or surgeries for different types of eyelid masses, depending on their biological behavior, size and location.
For smaller masses that primarily affect the eyelid margin (the portion located at the edge of the eyelid) and backside of the eyelid, Dr. Hsu performs mass removal or photoablation using a CO2 laser. When combined with local numbing, this technique allows Dr. Hsu to remove eyelid masses without the use of general anesthesia. This is especially helpful for avoiding the risks of using general anesthesia in older patients. Since this technique does not usually involve stitches and patients are typically very comfortable following the procedure, the use of an E-collar and/or pain pills is often not needed.
Dr. Hsu Up Close
Dr. Hsu’s Mission
Dr. Hsu is on a mission to raise the bar in eye care for animals. To aid her mission, Dr. Hsu attends both human and veterinary ophthalmology conferences. She also collaborates with an ophthalmologist in human medicine to learn new techniques and bring them into the veterinary medicine space.
Many pets come into our office, bumping into walls, not finding their food dishes, and no longer playing. When they reunite with their owners following surgery, it’s like they’re seeing them for the first time. We love being part of these happy reunions. – Kim Hsu, DVM, MSc, DACVO
Dr. Hsu’s Educational Background
Dr. Hsu graduated from Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, followed by a one-year internship in small animal medicine and surgery at the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London.
She went on to complete her Master’s of Science Degree in Veterinary Ophthalmology from Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, followed by a three-year residency in ophthalmology at Eye Care for Animals in Wheeling, IL.
Dr. Hsu Off the Job
Dr. Hsu is originally from Calgary, Canada, and currently resides in Montgomery County, PA, with her husband, their two children, a fluffy white dog named Molly and an orange cat named Mac. When not providing exceptional eye care for pets, Dr. Hsu enjoys Crossfit training, yoga and exploring new places with her family.