How Do Dogs Go Blind?

There are many factors that can cause dogs to go blind including old age, genetics, illness or a medical condition like diabetes. Understanding the cause of your dog’s change in vision can help you to care for them and ease the transition into life without sight.

Medical Conditions That Cause Pets to Go Blind

There are many diseases that can impact a dog’s vision and cause them to go blind. Some of the most common conditions causing blindness in dogs include: cataracts, SARDS, and Glaucoma. 

Cataracts 

Dog blind from cataracts

Cataracts are among the most common medical causes of vision loss in dogs. A pet develops cataracts when there is a change in protein that alters the lens of the eye. The change is very visible and easily spotted by pet parents.

This protein causes a cloudy, white film to appear on the lens. The dog’s vision will worsen over time as the lens becomes more and more opaque. As the lens clouds over, it blocks light from reaching a dog’s retina. Some dogs with cataracts may see a slow transition to blindness, while others may seem to go blind overnight. A dog with diabetes stands a high probability of developing cataracts.

SARDS

Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration or SARDS is a leading cause of sudden blindness in dogs. SARDS is a degenerative eye condition that causes an otherwise healthy dog to become suddenly blind. The condition is not painful, however most dogs with SARDS are irreversibly blind.

Glaucoma

Blind dog on a walk

Loss of sight from Glaucoma occurs due to a buildup of pressure from fluid in the eye. Glaucoma is a painful condition, and may occur in one or both eyes.

If treated quickly by a Veterinarian they may be able to save a pet’s eyesight by relieving the eye pressure. Most dogs with glaucoma will be diagnosed between the ages of three to seven years old. If glaucoma is left untreated, it will cause a dog to go completely blind.

Diabetes

Canine diabetes cases are on the rise. Large breed dog, breeding females, overweight dogs, and dogs with a poor nutrition are considered high risk for developing diabetes. Blindness is a common diabetic complication. 75% of dogs with diabetes will develop cataracts that can lead to partial or complete blindness. Most diabetic dogs will develop cataracts within their first year of diagnosis.

There are other medical conditions that causes a dog to go blind including retinal detachment, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), or traumatic injury.

Helping a Dog Adjust to Vision Loss

Many blind dogs or dogs with poor vision adjust well to loss of sight. With a strong sense of smell, keen hearing, and assistive devices like a blind dog halo your pet can live a long, happy life. Most eye conditions and loss of eyesight do not go away on their own. Any dog exhibiting signs of loss of vision, need to be seen by their vet immediately. Early diagnosis of vision, means faster treatment and the higher probability of a good outcome. Early intervention is key when it comes to helping your dog adjust to vision loss.

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