deterioration of the retina caused by the progressive and eventual death of the cells of the retina
What is it?
The Retina is the part of the eye that receives light and an image and then sends electrical impulses to the brain. Animals with retinal degeneration have dysfunction (impairment) or death of the cells in the retina and therefore have decreased or absent vision.
What causes it?
Retinal degeneration may be diagnosed by direct observation using an instrument called an ophthalmoscope, or by electroretinography (ERG). An ERG is an electrical test of retinal function.
There are several causes of retinal degeneration. Progressive retinal atrophy is a genetic (inherited) cause of retinal degeneration. This condition is inherited in many breeds of dogs and some cats including Miniature Poodles, Schnauzers, English Cocker Spaniels, Irish Setters and Collies, to name a few. Animals with glaucoma may develop retinal degeneration due to the effects of high pressure on the retina. Pets that have had retinal detachment or infection or inflammatory conditions of the retina may also be blind due to retinal degeneration.
How is it treated?
There is no treatment for retinal degeneration. Most dogs and cats adapt well to blindness if their environment is not continually changed. The major concern is for the safety of affected animals. Swimming pools are particularly hazardous because blind animals cannot always find their way out if they fall in. You must help your companion avoid obstacles, pedestrians, bicycles and automobile drivers who expect animals to move out of the way. You will quickly learn how to be a “seeing-eye” person for your companion. Numerous internet websites and books are available that contain helpful information to help both you and your pet adapt to vision loss.