What are the signs & symptoms that develop in affected dogs?
PRA is a subtle disease and dogs adapt very well to the slow loss of vision. You may notice that your dog is reluctant to go down the stairs, bumps into door frames or corners, or takes a longer time to fetch a toy.
When do signs and symptoms develop?
An ophthalmologist can first see signs of this disease by 8 weeks of age, with complete blindness typically occurring by 1 year. However, there are some individual differences noted and some dogs have vision at 3 to 4 years of age.
How do vets diagnose this condition?
Veterinarians use a focused light to examine the pupils. In affected dogs, the pupils will appear more dilated and slower to contract. Your vet may also use a lens to visualize the retina at the back of the eye to look for changes in the optic nerve or blood vessels. You may be referred to a veterinary ophthalmologist for a definitive diagnosis.
How is this condition treated?
Currently, there is no definitive treatment for PRA. Supplements, including antioxidants, have been proposed for management of the disease, but have not been scientifically proven effective.
What actions should I take if my dog is affected?
Careful monitoring by your veterinarian will be required for the rest of your affected dog's life as secondary complications, including cataracts, can develop. With blind dogs, keeping furniture in the same location, making sure they are on a leash in unfamiliar territory, and training them to understand verbal commands are some of the ways to help them at home.