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Optic Nerve Coloboma in Dog… What is it? What causes it? And is there a cure?

Optic Nerve Coloboma is a classic example of a really long and complex medical term that when its said to someone, usually that person will have no idea what it means other than the fact that it has something to do with the nerves located within the eye.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet decided that we would take a moment and discuss exactly what optic nerve coloboma is so that if you’ve recently been told by your veterinarian that you dog has it, you might have a better understanding of what that means.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Optic Nerve Coloboma defined.

Optic Nerve coloboma is a congenital condition in which a puppy is born with either a poorly developed optic nerve or a completely missing optic nerve all together!

Which is a big deal obviously…

Because the optic nerve is what transmits information from your dog’s eyes to his brain and allows him or her to see the world.  And when parts of it are left out it causes a “crater” in or near the optic disk which could cause several vision problems.  This cratered part is what is referred to as a “coloboma”.

Now if…

The “coloboma” is large enough your dog could be part of the 30% who have an optic nerve coloboma that actually causes problems in their vision.  Which is unfortunate, however the flip side of this statement is that nearly 70% of dogs that do suffer from this condition will not experience any “significant” visual impairment which is certainly a positive!

Now you may be wondering…

“What causes an Optic Nerve Coloboma?”

Which is a great question however other than the fact that this condition seems to be genetic, researchers don’t seem to know exactly why the genetic cause occurs.  That said however, there is evidence that seems to link this condition to CEA (Collie Eye Anomaly), a disease which results in many optical complications like:

  • Optic disk colobomas,
  • Choroidal hypoplasias,
  • And retinal dysplasia.


Some of the breeds who are most affected by CEA are obviously Collies, whom 75% suffer from this disease, but it should be noted that the following breeds are also at risk as well:


The Basenji dog is hereditarily predisposed to having CEA as well.

The good news is that…

CEA has been found to be an autosomal recessive trait, which means that only dogs who contain two copies of this recessive genes (one from the mother, and one from the father) will develop CEA.

Which means that…

It’s quite possible to avoid adopting a dog with CEA provided that you work with a breeder that is aware of this condition and “actively” breeds to avoid producing this disease in their litters.

Now if you suspect…

That your Collie or other dog may have optic nerve coloboma, here are some of the symptoms to look out for:

  • Any sign that your dog cannot see well, like…
    • Running into things,
    • Tripping or stumbling,
    • Not being able to catch items well,
    • Not being able to see you from certain locations relative to themselves,

It is important to note that…

After birth, the vision of your dog will not worsen because of an Optic Nerve Coloboma. This condition does not progress over time.  So, if you know that you dog has the condition now, you don’t need to worry about it spreading or becoming worse.

Diagnosis of optic nerve coloboma in dogs

In order to definitively diagnose optic nerve coloboma in your dog, a veterinarian will likely want to observe the back of your loved one’s eye using a lens and look for any misshapen optic disks which are usually located in the center of the bottom of the eye.

And while…

There isn’t a “cure” for this condition, it’s important to make sure that you do have a veterinarian confirm the diagnosis so that you can be sure that your dog isn’t suffering some other “type” of eye condition which could worsen or could be treated and improved.

Which bring us…

To the point of the article where we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet, are not medical professionals and we’re certainly not veterinarians.  All we are is a bunch folks who are passionate about animals and want to try to help any pet owner do what’s best for his or her loved one.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet highly recommend checking out a pet insurance policy for your pets, because one simple accident could cause thousands of dollars of damage.  This way you won’t be liable for 100% of the cost that is required for treatment.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “Best” pet insurance policies in the industry, feel free to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

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