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

Blindness can be surprisingly difficult to detect in dogs, thanks to their ability to compensate for vision loss with other acute senses. Our Pittsboro vets explain how to spot the early signs of vision loss and what to do if you suspect blindness.

Spotting Vision Problems in Dogs

Dogs are extraordinary animals; for many people, they are both a loyal friend and an important family member.

If your dog gradually loses sight, it may be some time before you realize there's a problem. Visually impaired or blind dogs often memorize the furniture in your home and know how to move around it to avoid obstacles.

It's vital to spot the early signs of blindness in dogs, as early diagnosis and treatment can help prolong your dog's vision.

Symptoms of Vision Problems

Whether due to aging, injury, or other health problems, here 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 be accompanied by vision loss, ranging from minor visual impairment to complete blindness. A dog's vision can also deteriorate for hereditary reasons or due to disease or injury.

That said, blindness may be a symptom rather than the main problem. Underlying conditions such as heart disease, kidney or liver disorders, or systemic diseases can cause dog blindness.

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 therapeutic results are achieved through early diagnosis. Symptoms of glaucoma in dogs include yellow or green discharge from the eyes, dilated pupils, bloodshot eyes, or delayed reaction to bright light. If your dog shows symptoms of glaucoma, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to partial or total blindness.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a hereditary disease that can be difficult to detect due to its slow progression (allowing your dog to adapt to its visual impairment). Although PRA is painless, it causes a retina deterioration that leads to blindness in both eyes.

Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS)

Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS) is similar to ARP in that it causes retinal damage, leading to blindness in both eyes. However, in the case of SARDS, visual impairment develops extremely rapidly and can lead to total blindness in a matter of days or weeks. SARDS is particularly difficult for dogs, as they have little time to adapt to their loss of sight.

Treatment of Vision Problems in Dogs

Contact your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has vision problems. Vision problems don't usually go away on their own, and early intervention is essential in most cases of sight loss.

Your dog's visual impairment may be a symptom of more serious medical problems.

Making an appointment with your vet for a thorough examination is the best way to avoid further complications and 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.

If your dog shows signs of visual impairment or blindness, contact our Pittsboro vets to book an appointment today.

Welcoming New Patients

Our vets at Hope Crossing Animal Hospital are now accepting new patients! Our talented veterinary team is passionate about caring for the pets of Pittsboro. Contact us today to book your first appointment. 

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