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Dog Vision Problems: Blindness, Symptoms, and How To Manage

Blindness can be surprisingly difficult to spot in dogs, thanks to their ability to compensate for loss of vision with their other acute senses. Here, our Cordova vets share ways to spot the early signs of failing vision and what you should do if you suspect blindness.

Spotting Vision Problems in Dogs

Dogs are extraordinary animals, and for many people dogs are both a loyal friend and a significant member of the family. 

If your dog gradually loses their vision it may be some time before you realize there's a problem. Visually impaired or blind dogs will often memorize the furniture in your house and understand how to navigate your home in order to avoid obstacles.

Spotting the first signs of blindness in dogs is essential, since early diagnosis and treatment could help to extend your dog's vision.

Symptoms of Vision Problems

Whether it's due to aging, an injury, or other health conditions, below are some of the most common signs and symptoms of vision loss in dogs:

      • Pawing at the eyes or face
      • Eyes become cloudy
      • Bumping into objects
      • Changes in behavior that indicate anxiety or hesitation in new places
      • Reluctance to go up or down stairs, or jump onto furniture
      • Swollen, puffy or inflamed eyes
      • Obvious eye irritation or pawing at face
      • Confused, dazed, easily startled

Causes

In dogs, the natural aging process can sometimes include vision loss, ranging from minor visual impairment to complete blindness. A dog's vision may also become impaired due to hereditary reasons, disease, or injury. 

That said, blindness could be a symptom rather than the primary issue. Underlying conditions, such as heart disease, kidney or liver disorders, or systemic diseases can cause blindness to occur in dogs.

Conditions That May Cause Blindness in Dogs

Cataracts

The development of cataracts is usually evident from the cloudy appearance of the dog's eye which stops light from fully reaching the retina. Early diagnosis is key when it comes to cataracts since surgery may be possible to preserve your dog's eyesight.

Diabetes

Diabetes in dogs is relatively common. Older dogs of large breeds, females that are breeding, dogs that have poor nutrition, and obese dogs all have an increased risk of developing diabetes. Cataracts, which can cause full or partial blindness, will develop in more than 75% of dogs with diabetes. 

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a painful condition that can be treated. The best treatment outcomes come with early diagnosis. Symptoms of glaucoma in dogs include: yellow or green discharge from their eyes, dilated pupils, bloodshot eyes, or delayed reaction to bright light. If your dogs is displaying symptoms of glaucoma contact your vet as soon as possible. Left untreated glaucoma can lead to partial or complete blindness.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), is an inherited condition that can be difficult to detect due to its slow progression, (allowing your dog to adapt to their visual impairment). While PRA is painless, it causes a deterioration of the retina, which lead to blindness in both eyes.

Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS)

Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS) is similar to PRA in that it causes a deterioration of the retina, which leads to blindness in both eyes. However, with SARDS the visual impairment develops extremely quickly and can result in total blindness within days or weeks. SARDS is particularly difficult for dogs since there is little time for them to adjust to their loss of sight. 

Treatment of Vision Problems in Dogs

Contact your vet if you believe that your dog is experiencing vision problems. Vision issues typically do not clear up on their own, and early intervention is key with most instances of sight loss.

Your dog's visual impairment may be a symptom of larger medical issues.

Making  an appointment with your vet for a full examination is the best way to prevent further complications, and possibly save even 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.

If your dog is showing signs of visual impairment or blindness, contact our Cordova vets to book an appointment today.

Blindness and vision problems in dogs, Cordova Animal Hospital

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