What is PRA?

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited condition that is somtimes referred to as "night blindness". Dogs with PRA gradually lose eyesight due to retina deterioration. This disease can occur at any age. There is no treatment for PRA. The dog may appear to have normal vision in daylight but is cautious and/or disoriented at night. Eventually the dog gradually loses day vision as well and becomes blind. Most owners will not notice the dog has a problem at first because dogs in familiar surroundings will be able to move around without a problem. The eyes will not initially show visible signs of abnormality and PRA is not painful. The PRA found in Italian Greyhounds is triggered by a recessive gene. This means that a PRA dog has two parents which are either affected or carriers. The PRA dog's littermates are probably carriers. Every Italian Greyhound's eyes should be examined by a veterinary ophthalmologist yearly. With both breeders and pet owners working together on regular vision checks this problem could be eliminated permanently. Information supplied by pet owners can help breeders to more accurately predict which dogs are carriers and which are not. The exciting news is that in the not so distant future, IG's may have a blood test to help identify this heartbreaking disease. For a more in depth look please visit the IGCA HomePage .

What are cataracts?

A cataract is a cloudy change of the lens which makes the usually tranparent lens appear gray or white. The cataract usually starts as a small dot or microscopic blister and progresses to involve larger areas of the eye (lens). The rate of progression may be slow or rapid. Cataracts may develop in one or in both eyes. If a large portion of the lens becomes white, blurred vision results. Behavior such as bumping into objects may be a sign of vision loss. Cataracts may result from injuries to the eye, inflammation of the eye, and diseases such as diabetes. Some cataracts are inherited.

Inheritance is the major cause of cataracts in dogs.

Cataract surgery is generally restricted to dogs with cataracts in both eyes. It is also important that a dog is a good candidate for anesthesia. The success rate in cataract surgery has improved in recent years with the newer medications and micro-surgical techniques. Although the success rate is high there are still several possible complications. The risks associated with surgery should be explained to the owner thoroughly before any surgery takes place.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an increase of pressure inside the eye which blocks the nerve impulse through the optic nerve and causes blindness. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in dogs. Because it can go undetected by pet owners it is diagnosed very late in many dogs. As a result vision is sometimes permanently lost. Glaucoma is very difficult to treat in pets and unlike people, where medications can help, surgery is usually required in dogs.

There are two types of glaucoma. Primary glaucoma occurs without any other ocular cause and is considered to be an inherited condition. Secondary glaucoma is usually caused by a disease or injury to the eye.

If the optic nerve has been permanently damaged there can be no restoration of vision. Early medical intervention can help a dog's vision to be maintained. Glaucoma can be extremely painful to your dog.

Clinical signs of glaucoma include some or all of the following: excessive tearing, a green or yellow eye discharge, a reddened eye, an eye that suddenly looks blue, an eye with a pupil that is large and will not move when light is shined into it, a dog who sleeps a lot, a dog who hides under the bed or a dog who suddenly becomes frightened or mean.