Golden Retriever Uveitis, also called Pigmentary Uveitis, is an eye disease that affects only Golden Retrievers. It is a heritable disease which usually affects both eyes and can lead to blindness. Anyone who owns a Golden Retriever needs to understand this terrible eye disease in dogs and be able to recognize the signs.
Eye Disease in Dogs: Anatomy of the Eye and Golden Retriever Uveitis
The uvea is the part of the eye which contains the iris, or colored part of the eye. The lens sits just behind the iris and is visible through the pupil opening. In Golden Retriever Uveitis, there is pigment deposited on the iris or on the front surface of the lens. The cause of this pigment deposition is unknown. There may be dark brown cysts present which are attached to the iris or floating freely in the front part of the eye. These cysts, called iris cysts or uveal cysts, are seen in other breeds but are associated with pigmentary uveitis only in the Golden Retriever. The presence of cysts appears to be associated with an increase in the likelihood that the eyes will develop glaucoma. The other cause of blindness secondary to this disease is the development of cataracts within the lens.
Eye Disease in Dogs: Diagnosing Golden Retriever Uveitis
The average age of onset for this disease is around 8 years, but dogs as young as 4 years or as old as 14 have been diagnosed. The signs seen in affected dogs are usually associated with pain and include tearing, blinking or squinting, reddened sclera or conjunctiva, and sunken eyes. Dogs with uveitis may avoid bright light. Sometimes owners will note the presence of cysts in the front part of the eye.
Your veterinarian can examine the eyes and measure the pressure within the eye with a special instrument. In uveitis, the pressure is usually below normal. If glaucoma develops the pressure will be increased. Again, cysts may be identified and pigment may be seen on the front of the lens. A Veterinary Ophthalmologist should be consulted if Golden Retriever Uveitis is suspected due to the serious nature of this disease.
Eye Disease in Dogs: Treatment of Golden Retriever Uveitis
The main goal of treatment is to decrease the inflammation in the eye. This is done using topical steroid drops administered by the owner daily. In addition, your vet may prescribe dilating eye drops and oral anti-inflammatory medications. Despite all treatment, almost half of the dogs diagnosed with this eye disease will become blind, either from the development of cataracts or glaucoma. Often the eye will be painful and blind and requires surgical removal.
Affected dogs and their offspring should not be bred. There is currently no genetic test for Pigmentary Uveitis but there may be in the future. Golden retriever owners should consult their veterinarian if they are concerned about this serious eye disease in dogs.
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