Eye Disease in Dogs: Anterior Uveitis in Dogs

Anterior uveitis is a common eye disease in dogs.  It is caused by inflammation of the uveal tract,Anterior Uveitis in Dogs which contains the iris or colored part of the eye as well as the ciliary body. The ciliary body sits behind the iris and secretes fluid into the front part or anterior chamber of the eye.  Anterior uveitis is not a disease in itself, but a syndrome which can be caused by numerous other systemic or eye diseases.

Eye Disease in Dogs: Signs of Anterior Uveitis

Signs of Anterior Uveitis usually result from pain and include tearing, blinking or squinting, sunken eyes, avoidance of bright light, and red sclera or conjunctiva. In severe cases, owners may notice a blue hue to the cornea, or blood in the anterior chamber. There may be vision problems if both eyes are affected.  If any of the above signs are noted by the owner, they should take their dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible as untreated uveitis can lead to blindness.

Eye Disease in Dogs: Diagnosing and Treating Anterior Uveitis

A thorough eye examination should be performed including measurement of the pressure within the anterior chamber. The pressure is usually lower than normal in Anterior Uveitis as the inflamed ciliary body produces less fluid to fill the anterior chamber. In addition, there may be debris floating in the anterior chamber which can be red or white blood cells or protein. While diagnosing Anterior Uveitis is relatively easy, finding the cause may not be.
Many diseases can cause Uveitis, including bacterial, fungal, and viral infections, heartworm disease, tick-borne diseases, cataracts, and cancer. In addition, Anterior Uveitis can result from vaccination, trauma or as a side effect of certain medications. In over half of cases, the underlying cause is not known and these cases are classified as idiopathic.
Treatment depends on whether there is an underlying disease process found or not. If so, eliminating the underlying condition will help resolve the uveitis.  For all causes of Anterior Uveitis, treatment is aimed at decreasing the inflammation within the eye through use of anti-inflammatory eye drops and possibly oral anti-inflammatories.  Eye drops that dilate the pupil are also used to decrease pain and prevent attachment of the iris to the lens. Treatment may take weeks, month, or even be lifelong. Untreated Anterior Uveitis can lead to glaucoma, cataracts, lens luxation, and blindness.

Golden Retrievers can be especially susceptible to this disease. To learn about Golden Retriever Uveitis, or Pigmentary Uveitis, click here.

Click here to learn about eyelid diseases in dogs.

Click here to learn about keratoconjunctivitis-sicca.

Click here to learn about cherry eye disease.


  1. Jennifer Bayliss says

    I have a 4 year old russian black terrier bitch, who has gone blind,
    she was a singleton puppy, by a sire who has since died she is his only live offspring,
    her sire’s mother was imported in whelp to Australia with canine herpes, she had only 3 litters and lost quite a number of pups, my girls mum was a maiden bitch ultrasounded at 5 weeks had 4 pups, delivered 1 live pup, 1 dead 2 partially re-absorbed, now my question is, could have the Herpes virus been passed on to my girl and caused her to have Anterior Uveitis and caused her blindness ???

    • Wow, that was a complicated question! I would need more details to understand your dogs condition, but I can’t think that the herpes from your dogs grandmother resulted in her uveitis and subsequent blindness. Herpes does cause fetal death intrauterine as well as early death in pups if the virus is contracted during the last three weeks of pregnancy and the first three weeks of the puppy’s lives. It does not affect subsequent litters though, so her grandmother lost litters for some other reason (there are many). The viral infection would result in immunity in your dogs mom and she would not lose puppies or transfer the virus at the time of birth. I am sorry your bitch has gone blind, and I hope she is feeling well otherwise. Russian terriers are great dogs.

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