What is Corneal Dystrophy?
Corneal dystrophy is a hereditary disease of the cornea---the clear outer surface of the eye---that usually affects both eyes. It causes an opaque place on the corneal surface, and can range from mild to blinding.
How does my dog get Corneal Dystrophy?
The condition is hereditary; however, different breeds appear to have different forms of corneal dystrophy caused by different genes. Different forms affect different layers of the cornea. Some affect the outermost layer, and are caused by degeneration of part of that layer. Some affect the middle layer, and are caused by a localized metabolic error. Some affect the innermost layer, and are caused by degeneration of those cells, leading to swelling of the cornea.
How do I know if my dog has Corneal Dystrophy?
The first signs are whitish opacities on the cornea, either right in the center or near the edges. They can be round, oval or ring shaped, and usually occur in both eyes. In some breeds, such as Airedale Terriers and Shetland Sheepdogs, they may appear as early as 4 months of age, whereas in others they only appear in the senior years. Your veterinarian will apply a stain to your dog's eye and examine it. She will also check for glaucoma, as that may in some cases cause similar corneal problems.
What can I do about Corneal Dystrophy?
Mild cases can go untreated, or may benefit from eye drops that may prevent some cases from getting worse. Advanced cases may need antibiotic eye drops as well asor one of a number of different surgeries including one surgery in which the diseased corneal tissue is removed and a temporary soft contact lens is placed over the eye for protection and pain relief.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting Corneal Dystrophy?
There is nothing you can do to prevent the condition from occurring, except to refrain from breeding affected dogs and to choose your dog from a family without the condition.
Are there certain breeds that get Corneal Dystrophy more often?
Many breeds are affected, including Airedale Terriers, Shetland Sheepdogs, Afghan Hounds, Samoyeds, Cocker Spaniels, Bearded Collies, Rough Collies, Lhasa Apsos, Weimaraners, Whippets, Bichon Frises, Siberian Huskies, Mastiffs, Miniature Pinschers, Boston Terriers, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Beagles, and others.