Corneal dystrophy is a fancy medical term to describe a relatively common disease many dog breeds can suffer from. And because this is an inheritable disease, we wanted to take a moment and discuss exactly what it is, how it’s diagnosed, and some ways it can be treated.
We’ll also want to discuss some of the dogs that may be affected by this condition so that if you’re currently looking for a new pet, hopefully, this article might be able to help you determine which “type” of dog you may want to consider as well as give you a few questions you may want to ask your breeder before making that all-important decision.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.
What is Corneal Dystrophy?
Usually, when we’re trying to determine the meaning of a medical term with several “parts,” we here at IndulgeYouPet have found the easiest way to get the general “gist” of the term is by breaking down each part and defining the terms separately.
The “Corneal” part of Corneal Dystrophy is pretty easy because the “Corneal” refers to the “Cornea,” which is the transparent or clear part of the eye that acts as a protective outer covering. Its primary function is to help protect the rest of the look from dirt, bacteria, or anything else that could get into the eye and cause problems.
On the other hand, dystrophy is a term used to describe a condition or disorder whereby an organ or body tissue starts deteriorating. In the state we’re discussing today, it would be the cornea.
The tricky part when it comes to discussing corneal dystrophy is that there are three different types, each of which can cause your pet to suffer from vision impairment and an increased risk for a variety of other eye ailments, including:
- Corneal ulceration,
- Bullous keratopathy,
- Eye infections,
- And much, much more!
Types of corneal dystrophy:
Epithelial Corneal Dystrophy
Epithelial Corneal Dystrophy is when the cornea’s outermost layer starts to deteriorate.
Stromal dystrophy is when the cornea gets cloudy and corneal opacities form. This is easy to see in your dog’s eye right away. Sometimes, this is referred to as cornea stroma.
Corneal Endothelial Dystrophy
Corneal endothelial dystrophy occurs when the endothelium stops accurately regulating the cornea’s fluid. Thus, swelling occurs within the cornea itself, impairing vision. A condition that is also commonly referred to as Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy or Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy.
Most Commonly Affected Breeds
Just like all diseases and disorders that are genetic, corneal dystrophy is more common in some dogs than others. Those dog breeds that are at exceptionally high risk include:
- Airedale Terrier,
- American Cocker Spaniel,
- Boston Terrier,
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel,
- Italian Greyhound,
- Miniature Pinscher,
- Shetland Sheepdog,
- Siberian Husky.
It’s important to note that this is not a “complete” list of all the dog breeds that could be affected by corneal dystrophies, so you’ll always want to research a particular dog breed before adopting your next pet.
Symptoms of Corneal Dystrophies
Now, the symptoms can vary depending on the type of dystrophy we’re talking about, but some of the symptoms might be:
- Discoloration of eyes or rings in the cornea
- Corneal Lipidosis
- If your dog has yellowish eyes, then it could be corneal lipidosis. This can be caused by corneal dystrophy but also may be caused by another health problem that affects calcium and phosphorus. Your vet may have blood work done to determine any underlying health problems.
- Lipid keratopathy may also be the cause of corneal lipidosis. This means that your dog probably has high blood cholesterol and thus has this. High cholesterol isn’t necessarily due to a high-fat diet (though it could be!). It could be caused by Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, or other causes. The best thing to do is speak to your vet. The diagnosis period may take time for many reasons; be patient.
Once you take your pet to the vet, you’ll likely have a lot of tests ahead, so here’s what you might expect:
- Ophthalmic exam,
- Blood chemical profile exam,
- Complete Blood Count,
- Slit Lamp Microscopy,
- Fluorescein stain.
Through these tests, you’ll learn more about the cornea problem your dog faces and what kind of treatment plan will be necessary to help your pet get better.
The treatment plan will depend on the corneal dystrophy type and how far the corneal degeneration has reached. In some instances, your veterinary ophthalmologist may recommend a cornea transplant. However, this isn’t an option for all dogs because finding a cornea donor is difficult.
Other possible treatment options include:
- Lenses for your dog’s eyes,
- Removing tags (in epithelial cornea dystrophy),
- Flap Surgery of conjunctiva.
Remember, the treatment will depend on a lot of factors. Your veterinarian will suggest what’s best for your dog.
Which brings us to…
You must consider that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals! We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and what’s best for them. This is why if you have a “feeling” that something just isn’t “right” about your furry little companion, be sure to have them examined by a professional right away. Or, as we like to say…
“When in doubt, have a vet check it out!
This brings us to the last topic we wanted to discuss here in this article, which is the importance of at least considering purchasing a pet insurance policy for your pet. We here at IndulgeYourPet know that many people out there would very likely buy a pet insurance policy if they fully understood what these types of policies cover and how much they cost.
Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?
No, of course not. But if you’re someone who doesn’t have a “ton” of money sitting in the bank that will be able to cover the cost of a medical emergency for your “furry” family member, then perhaps a pet insurance policy “might” be right for you!
For more information about who we feel is currently offering some of the “best” pet insurance policies in the industry, check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.