Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
What is PRA?
An inherited degeneration of the retina that is progressive, leading eventually to vision compromise and subsequently blindness.
How does my dog get PRA?
There are certain breeds with an increased risk of developing PRA (see below).
How do I know if my dog has PRA?
Dogs will usually start with a subtle ‘night blindness’ that progresses to vision compromise in day light. A more prominent pupil dilation with or without noticeable retinal reflection may be noted. What appears to be acute blindness is probably just a change in environment or progression to complete blindness. In sudden acute cases, the process takes no more than a week to progress from visual to blind. Your veterinarian will do a thorough eye examination looking for different reflexes that indicate a response to light hitting the retina. Looking at the retina with an ophthalmoscope will allow visualization of retinal changes. It may be necessary to visit a boarded ophthalmologist for further confirmation.
What can I do about PRA?
Once PRA is confirmed, if not visually impaired, there is nothing you can do to slow the process. If blind, keeping stability within the environment is helpful since most pets memorize their surroundings. Although blind, PRA is NOT painful. Monitor for behavior changes that might indicate reduced activity or aggression as a result of the blindness. There is no medical or surgical treatment.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting PRA?
Breed selection and careful screening of breeders is imperative to avoid this condition.
Are there certain breeds that get PRA more often?
- Early onset PRA—Irish setter, Collie, Norwegian Elkhound, Miniature Schnauzer, Belgian Shepherd.
- Late onset PRA – Miniature/toy Poodle, American Cocker Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, Labrador Retriever, Tibetan terrier, Miniature Longhaired Dachshund, Akita, Samoyed.
- Central PRA—Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Border Collie, Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, Briard
- Sudden Acquired (SARD) – Predominantly Female – Brittany Spaniels, Miniature Schnauzers, Dachshunds.