Overnight or Perhaps Over Time
It’s important to note that blindness that appears to be sudden in onset may actually have occurred gradually over time. A dog with eyesight that is slowly degenerating over time, will compensate by using his other senses. Blind dogs often memorize the position of furniture in their homes, allowing them to navigate their environment. It’s only when the dog has to navigate an unfamiliar environment that it becomes apparent that he’s blind.
Dogs who experience sudden onset blindness aren’t able to adapt to the loss of vision as quickly. The signs of blindness are usually more noticeable in these pets.
Common Cause of Blindness in Dogs
Many factors can lead to vision loss, but medical conditions are the leading cause of blindness in dogs. Here are a few of the most common health issues leading to pet vision loss:
Vision loss from diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in dogs. Diabetes is more common than you may think. 1 in 10 dogs will become diabetic in their lifetime, and 75% of diabetic dogs will eventually go blind. Most dogs with diabetes will quickly see changes in vision and formation of cataracts after becoming diabetic.
Affected dogs often lose sight within five to six months of being diagnosed. Vision loss from diabetes can occur quickly, with complete vision loss occurring within 48 hours of the first symptom.
Glaucoma is a painful condition that causes pressure to build up in one or both eyes. Although glaucoma can be treated when caught early, it will lead to blindness if untreated. 40% of dogs with glaucoma will end up blind within the first year of diagnosis.
Cataracts are common in both humans and pets. As pets age, cataracts form a cloudy film over the eye. Typically, cataracts in dogs grow slowly and can be treated, but uncared for will lead to vision loss.
PRA is an inherited condition where cells in the retina deteriorate, causing blindness. Although not painful, Progressive Retinal Atrophy affects both of a dog’s eyes. PRA is a degenerative condition with no cure, although, with medication, you may be able to slow down the process.
Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS)
Although the cause of SARDS in dogs is unknown, SARDS causes retinal degeneration, which leads to irreversible blindness. Often the complete loss of vision occurs suddenly. Even though SARDS is untreatable, it is not painful, and dogs with SARDS can maintain an excellent quality of life.