Do you know about eye diseases that might affect your dog? We thought we’d highlight a few diseases that tend to affect specific dog breeds.
Uveodermatologic syndrome is an autoimmune disease attaching pigmentation of the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. Most commonly associated with uveitis (intraocular inflammation) and depigmentation of the nose, lips, and eyelids, this aggressive condition requires prompt diagnosis and therapy to prevent pain, blindness, and irreversible scarring.
Dry eye, which is more appropriately called keratoconjunctivitis sicca (or KCS), is another autoimmune disease. In this disease, the tear-producing lacrimal gland is attacked by the immune system and experiences disruption of normal function. The most consistent signs of dry eye in dogs is conjunctivitis and excessive mucoid ocular discharge. Most cases respond favorable to simple treatment.
Indolent corneal ulcers, also sometimes known as non-healing ulcers or spontaneous chronic corneal epithelial defects (SCCEDs), are slow healing superficial ulcers that occur in middle-aged to senior dogs. Any breed may be affected, but Boxers, Corgis, Labrador Retrievers, and Bulldogs are predisposed. Although antibiotic and analgesic therapy is appropriate to prevent secondary bacterial infection and limit discomfort, most patients require debridement in the form of grid keratotomy or diamond burr polishing for timely resolution.
Prolapsed third eyelid gland, sometimes called “cherry eye”, involves herniation of a gland from below the eye. This unsightly condition causes conjunctivitis and dry eye. Fortunately, surgical replacement of the gland is usually simple in this breed.
Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS) is a poorly understood condition that has been described for over 2 decades, but veterinary ophthalmologists are still somewhat “in the dark” about the disease. It manifests as relatively acute, severe to complete vision loss most commonly in middle-aged dogs, with Dachshunds, Pugs, and Miniature Schnauzers predisposed. Studies have explored associations with the immune system, and although the jury is out on a definitive link, there is some evidence of a connection.
Pannus, or chronic superficial keratitis, is an autoimmune disease affecting the conjunctiva, cornea, and sometimes third eyelids. The condition causes redness, swelling, and pigmentary changes and, when untreated, vision loss may occur.
Pigmentary uveitis is an inherited disease that commonly affects middle-aged to senior Golden Retrievers, with other breeds being affected much less frequently. The disease is characterized by inflammation and pigment dispersion inside the eye, which often culminates in cataract formation and glaucoma. Unfortunately, the disease is chronic, progressive, and incurable. The goal of management, which often includes various medications to control inflammation and/or intraocular pressure, is to maintain comfort and vision for as long as possible.
Cataracts are opacification of the lens within the eye which are often genetic, age-related, or secondary to diabetes mellitus in dogs. Fortunately, medications can usually prevent cataracts from causing other problems (like uveitis and glaucoma) and cataract removal surgery is commonly performed.
Pigmentary keratitis, typically characterized by corneal pigmentation, vascularization and fibrosis, occurs as a result of multiple factors, including prominent eye conformation, abnormal tear film, reduced corneal sensation, and trichiasis (hairs rubbing on the cornea). In many cases, topical medication is sufficient to slow (or possibly stop) the progression of the corneal pigmentation. However, surgical intervention (such as medial canthoplasty or nasal fold resection) may be warranted in more severely affected dogs.
Entropion (inward rolling) of eyelids results in eyelid hairs contacting the ocular surface with secondary irritation, corneal inflammation, and sometimes corneal ulcerations. In most cases, surgical correction of the eyelid position is necessary to resolve discomfort and prevent chronic corneal scarring.
Corneal ulcers with secondary bacterial infections are very common in this breed. While most corneal ulcers are caused by minor trauma, secondary bacterial infections often cause rapid deterioration, excess pain, and degradation of corneal tissue. Diagnostic sampling (such as bacterial culture) is warranted to guide appropriate antibiotic selection. In severe cases, corneal reconstructive surgeries (such as conjunctival pedicle flap placement) may be necessary.
Although we couldn’t list all breed predispositions, every dog breed is prone to some eye disease(s). If you think your pup might have an ocular abnormality, evaluation with a veterinarian or veterinary ophthalmologist is recommended.