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Blindness is a condition that is characterized by vision loss in both of the eyes. It is common for dogs to lose their vision as they age. However, the onset of blindness can be hard to define as dogs are capable of making up for what they lack in vision with their senses of smell and hearing. There are various common symptoms of blindness in dogs that their owners can watch out for.
Clumsiness: If a dog wasn't clumsy before, but starts to exhibit signs of occasional clumsiness, it is a warning flag that he might have lost his vision. For example, if it is more difficult for a dog to jump on or off a couch than it was previously.
Bumping into things is a very telling symptom of blindness in dogs. When dogs are used to their surroundings they can, in a very carefree manner, make their way around a place effortlessly. However, if a dog starts to bump into familiar objects, such as sofas and tables, it might be a strong indication that the dog is starting to lose his vision.
A dog losing its vision my be more inclined to stay very close to its owner, and play less or not at all with other dogs. They can easily get lost in their own garden especially if blindness occurs quickly.
Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome
SARDS is a condition seen in dogs which usually results in a rapid degeneration of the retina leading to irreversible, complete vision loss over a few days to a few weeks. The retina usually appears normal when initially examined because the degeneration occurs so rapidly. Over time, the retina will eventually show evidence of degeneration when examined.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
PRA is an inherited eye disease in dogs almost always causing complete blindness. The disease affects the rods in the eye that perceive colour and light. PRA is painless and affects both eyes simultaneously. Early symptoms of PRA include a dilating of the animal's pupils, increased eye shine and difficulties seeing in poor light conditions. Although there is no cure for the disease, certain antioxidants can be given to slow its progression. The onset of this disease typically takes one to two years and allows the dog time to adjust to vision loss. Cataracts may develop in the eye because of the PRA, causing some pain and a cloudiness to cover the retina.
PRA is inherited as a simple Autosomal Recessive gene, meaning that a copy of the PRA gene must be inherited from both parents for the disease to occur.
Cataract is a degenerative disease which generally affects the older dog who will progressively become blind. This disease can also be related to the dog's nutrition and other health conditions such as diabetes.
Glaucoma needs to be treated quickly or it may permanently affect the dog's vision. It occurs in dogs when abnormally high pressure develops within the eye, creating substantial damage to the optic nerve. This happens when the drainage system responsible for removing fluids from the eye becomes clogged, allowing large quantities of fluids to accumulate. This excess fluid production causes pressure in the eye which will consequently stretch and enlarge, ultimately causing irreversible vision loss. For owners suspecting glaucoma in their dogs, a series of extensive tests are available to confirm or rule this condition.