Here, our Tucson vets share how to recognize the first signs of blindness and what you should do if you suspect your dog has this condition.
Symptoms of Vision Problems
Just like people, dogs can potentially lose their vision and struggle with the challenges of going blind. Whether due to aging or other conditions, here are a few symptoms that suggest your dog may be losing their vision:
- Confused, dazed, easily startled
- Obvious eye irritation or pawing at face
- Swollen, puffy or inflamed eyes
- Unwillingness to go up or down stairs, or jump onto furniture
- Changes in behavior that indicate anxiety or hesitation in new places
- Bumping into objects
- Eyes become cloudy
Aging, injury, hereditary factors or disease can all contribute to your dog's worsening vision. Vision loss ranging from minor issues to full blindness can sometimes be part of the natural aging process.
However, it's important to understand that blindness is sometimes a secondary issue caused by an underlying condition such as kidney or liver disorders, heart disease or other systemic illnesses.
While many conditions can cause vision loss, some more common reasons include:
Glaucoma is a painful condition that feels similar to a migraine headache. Though treatment is available, early diagnosis will give your dog the best chance for a positive outcome. If you notice green or yellow discharge coming from your dog's eyes, they are slow to react to bright light, their pupils are dilated or they have bloodshot eyes, contact your vet as soon as possible. Left untreated, glaucoma may lead to complete or partial blindness.
Cataracts are another serious condition some dogs may experience. Symptoms include a cloudy appearance in the eye, which stops light from fully reaching the retina. An operation may prevent blindness, though early intervention is critical.
We are increasingly seeing diabetes become more common in dogs. Older dogs of large breeds, breeding females, dogs with poor nutrition and obese dogs are at higher risk of becoming diabetic. In more than 75% of dogs with diabetes, cataracts will develop, which can lead to partial or full blindness.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Though it's a painless condition, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRFA) can cause the retina to deteriorate, leading to blindness in both eyes. It is inherited and will develop at a slower rate, allowing your dog to gradually adjust to losing their sight.
Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome
Similar to PRA, Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS) causes deterioration of the retina, resulting in blindness in both eyes. The difference is that blindness develops much more quickly and can lead to total blindness within weeks - or even days. This is much harder on your pet as it gives them less time to adjust.
Treatment of Vision Problems in Dogs
Similar to other conditions, if you are unsure about the severity of blindness or the symptoms your dog may be experiencing, consult your vet. Typically, vision issues do not disappear on their own, and early intervention is critical for most instances of vision loss.
Some conditions that cause blindness may trigger other health issues, or blindness may be a symptom of broader medical problems.
Making an appointment for a full physical examination is the best way to prevent further complications, and potentially save your dog's sight.
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.
To learn more about blindness in dogs, contact our Tucson vets to book an appointment today.
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