The retina is a layer of tissue that lines the inside of the back wall of the eye. When light passes through the eye, and strikes the retina, special cells within the tissue convert light energy into nerve impulses. The nerve impulses are then transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve.
If your dog’s retina becomes detached, it stops collecting light …which causes blindness.
A detached retina is very serious and should be treated as soon as possible.
If the blood supply is not restored to the retina right away, the photoreceptors in the eye will die and if the problem gets this far along, the condition cannot be reversed.
Types Of Detached Retinas
Traction detachment: caused by a force that pulls the retina off its base. Examples of this would be inflammation or the formation of fibrin (the substance that helps blood to clot).
Serous detachment: caused by a build-up of fluid underneath the retina. The fluid can be blood or other liquid waste from the cells.
Rhematogenous:the formation of holes in the retina that are caused by injury or surgery.
Causes of Retinal Detachment
There are many different causes for a detached retina in dogs … here are some of them:
• Fungal infections
• Severe trauma or injury
• Genetic predisposition
• High blood pressure
• Problems with the immune system
• Viral Causes:- Distemper
• Rickettsia – Ehrlichia canis
• Protozoa – Leishmania, Toxoplasma
Anything that causes bleeding may also result in retina detachment. Some examples are:
• Systemic hypertension or high blood pressure
• Thrombocytopenia (Ehrlichia canis or abnormal drop in blood platelet count)
• Excessive blood thickness (Hyperviscosity)
• Anemia (low red blood cell count)
• Injury or trauma
Symptoms of A Detached Retina
• No response in the eye when the dog is surprised
• Fixed dilated pupil
• No eye reflex to light (PLR)
Your vet will do an eye exam with an ophthalmoscope. Your vet will be able to immediately tell that the retina is not where it is should be. There will be something floating in the back of your dog’s eye.
Your vet may also want to do an ultrasound.
Treatment options vary quite a bit. In some cases, the retina can be reattached with medications. The medication helps dissolve whatever it was that caused the detached retina in the first place.
Sometimes surgery is necessary. If the retina can be reattached surgically, then vision will be restored. If your dog has a partial detachment, your vet may choose to laser photocoagulation. This treatment helps “weld” the retina in place and seals any holes.
Dogs that have a partial retinal detachment seem to manage very well. And dogs that suffer from complete retinal detachment in both eyes can live long, satisfying lives. Owners should take a few precautions if their dog is blind:
• Show your pet where his food and water is. Make sure it’s accessible!
• Section off dangerous areas such as pools, lakes, stairs, and decks.
• Walk the dog on a leash!
• Have your pet play in small groups, large groups of hyper-active dogs may not be the best idea!
• Keep things where they are! If you move furniture or other objects around, familiarize your dog with the changes.
This article has been adapted from: http://www.dog-health-guide.org/detachedretinadog.html.
If you have any experience with Retinal Detachment, please tell me your story and how you got through it … leave a comment below.