Pannus (Chronic Superficial Keratitis)
What is Pannus?
Pannus is an inflammation of the cornea that leads to irritation, discomfort, and chronic changes to the cornea. Pigment and blood vessels grow across the cornea leading to the appearance that a dark film is over the surface of the eye. The spread of the pigmentation is usually from side to center and it is usually in BOTH eyes. It is not usually painful although it might appear so. Pannus is also know as German shepherd pannus, degenerative pannus, uberreisters’s syndrome, and other names.
How does my dog get Pannus?
There are a number of breeds that have a high predilection to Pannus (see below). Additionally, elevations greater than 5000 feet tend to increases the risk of developing Pannus. Thus the combination of genetics and environment seem to increase the likelihood.
How do I know if my dog has Pannus?
Your pet may or may not show signs initially. The signs usually seen include squinting, tearing, pawing at the eyes or face. Over time, the cornea may develop different levels of discoloration. To get an accurate assessment of this condition, your veterinarian will perform a thorough eye examination as well as some tests of the eye to determine the level of damage to the cornea (a fluorescent stain test) and the level of tear production. A referral to a board certified ophthalmologist may be required depending upon the findings and severity.
What can I do about Pannus?
Pannus is controlled rather than cured. It may get better or worse on a seasonal basis. Medications that are put into the eye are used to decrease the blood vessel development. Repetitive evaluation of the eyes should be done to determine the improvement. Medications are required for the life of the pet.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting?
Careful breed selection is the first step in trying to avoid Pannus. Living in lower elevations also helps.
Are there certain breeds that get Pannus more often?
In German Shepherds, Pannus is believed to be a genetic condition. Other breeds including the dachshund, greyhound, border collie, Siberian husky, Miniature pinscher, and Dalmatian are also affected.