Like people, dogs can lose their eyesight and struggle with the challenges of going blind. Here, our Albany vets share how to recognize the first signs of deteriorating eyesight in dogs, some causes, and what you should do if you suspect blindness.
Dog Eyesight Problems
By examining your dog's eyes, your veterinarian can gain vital information about your pet's health. Issues such as liver disease, diabetes, anemia, poisoning, head trauma, pain, auto-immune diseases, and cancer can all present indicators in the condition of a dog's eye.
Below, our Albany vets share some information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for dogs with eyesight problems.
Dog Breeds With Poor Eyesight
Dogs of any breed can have poor eyesight or experience eye problems that lead to poor vision, but there are a few breeds which are more prone to eye and vision problems than others, including:
- Cocker spaniels
- Golden retrievers
- Siberian husky
How to Tell if a Dog is Losing Eyesight
Whether it's due to aging or other conditions, these are a number of symptoms that suggest your dog may be losing their vision:
- Eyes become cloudy
- Bumping into objects
- Changes in behavior that indicate anxiety or hesitation in new places
- Unwillingness to go up or downstairs, or jump onto furniture
- Swollen, puffy or inflamed eyes
- Obvious eye irritation or pawing at their face
- Confused or dazed
- Easily startled
- Unequal pupil sizes
- Visible third eyelid
A dog's eyesight can become impaired due to aging, disease, injury, and hereditary reasons. The natural aging process can sometimes include loss of eyesight, ranging from minor visual impairment to full blindness.
However, it's important to understand that occasionally blindness itself isn't the primary issue, but rather a secondary issue of an underlying condition, such as heart disease, kidney or liver disorders, or systemic diseases.
While there are many conditions that may cause your dog's eyesight to deteriorate, some of the most common reasons include:
Diabetes in dogs is becoming increasingly common. Those at a higher risk of becoming diabetic include older dogs of large breeds, females that are breeding, dogs that have poor nutrition, and obese dogs. Cataracts will develop in more than 75% of dogs with diabetes. This condition can result in full or partial blindness amongst other serious health issues.
Glaucoma is an eye problem that feels similar to a migraine headache. With early diagnosis, this painful condition may be treatable, so catching the signs of glaucoma early is essential. If your dog has yellow or green discharge from their eyes, dilated pupils, bloodshot eyes, or is slow to react to bright light, contact your vet as soon as possible. Without intervention, glaucoma can lead to partial or complete blindness.
Another serious condition your dog may encounter is the development of cataracts. This eye condition is characterized by the cloudy appearance of the eye which prevents light from fully reaching the retina. Cataracts can be operated on which may prevent blindness, but early intervention is key.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), while painless, causes a deterioration of the retina, which leads to blindness in both eyes. It is inherited and develops at a slower rate, which allows your dog to adjust slowly to losing their eyesight.
Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome
Like PRA, Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS) causes a deterioration of the retina, which leads to blindness in both eyes. With this syndrome, however, the blindness develops much more quickly and can result in total blindness within days or weeks. This is much harder on your pet as there is less time to adjust.
Treating Dogs Who Are Having Problems With Their Eyesight
Eye conditions and deteriorating eyesight do not usually resolve themselves but in some cases, early diagnosis and treatment can help to preserve or restore your dog's eyesight.
Some of the conditions that could lead to blindness may even trigger other issues, or blindness might be a symptom of larger medical concerns.
Making an appointment with your vet for a full examination is the best way to prevent further complications, and possibly save your dog's eyesight.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.