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Dog Vision Problems: Blindness Symptoms & How To Manage

Dog Vision Problems: Blindness Symptoms & How To Manage

Like people, dogs can lose their vision and struggle with the challenges of going blind. Here, our Memphis vets share how to recognize the first signs and what you should do if you suspect blindness.

Dogs are extraordinary animals, and for many people, a significant part of their family. 

Like people, a dog's eyes can share vital information about their health. Issues like 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.

Our Memphis veterinarians provide some information about the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for vision problems in dogs. 

Symptoms of Vision Problems

Whether it's due to aging or other conditions, these are some 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 down stairs, or jump onto furniture
      • Swollen, puffy or inflamed eyes
      • Obvious eye irritation or pawing at face
      • Confused, dazed, easily startled

Causes

A dog's vision can become impaired due to aging, disease, injury, and hereditary reasons. The natural aging process can sometimes include vision loss, ranging from minor issues 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 vision loss, some more common reasons include:

Diabetes

Diabetes in dogs is becoming more 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 can result in full or partial blindness.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma feels similar to a migraine headache. It's a painful condition that does have treatment available, but the outcomes are best with early diagnosis. 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.

Cataracts

Another serious condition your dog may encounter is the development of cataracts. This is usually noted by a cloudy appearance of the eye which stops 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 sight.

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.

Treatment of Vision Problems in Dogs

As with any condition, if you are unsure about the severity or effects that any of these symptoms may cause, consult your vet. Typically, vision issues will not go away on their own, and early intervention is key with most instances of sight loss.

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 sight.

To learn more about blindness in dogs, contact our Southeast Memphis vets to book an appointment today.

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