Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a degenerative eye disorder that affects the retina of dogs. It’s an inherited condition, meaning it is passed down from parent to offspring.
PRA is caused by a mutation in the gene responsible for producing the photoreceptor cells in the retina. These cells are responsible for converting light into electrical signals that are sent to the brain and interpreted as vision. As PRA progresses, these photoreceptor cells die off, leading to blindness.
Symptoms of Canine Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Symptoms of PRA can vary depending on the breed and type of PRA, but generally include:
- Night blindness
- Decreased vision in dim light
- Dilated pupils
- Cloudiness of the eyes
- Head tilt
As the disease progresses, these symptoms may worsen and eventually lead to total blindness.
Diagnosing Canine Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive Retinal Atrophy is typically diagnosed through a combination of physical examination, ophthalmic examination, and genetic testing. During the physical exam, your veterinarian will look for signs of PRA such as dilated pupils and cloudy eyes. Ophthalmic exams may include electroretinography (ERG) or fundoscopy to assess the health of the retina. Genetic testing can help identify the specific mutation responsible for PRA in a particular breed.
Stages of Canine Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a progressive disease, meaning it will worsen over time. The stages of PRA can vary depending on the breed and type of PRA, but generally include:
Night blindness: affected dogs may have difficulty seeing in dim light or at night.
Decreased vision in dim light: affected dogs may have difficulty seeing objects in low light.
Total blindness: affected dogs may be completely blind.
Treating Canine Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Treatment for PRA is limited, and there is no cure. There are steps that can be taken to help slow the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life for affected dogs. These include providing a safe environment with minimal obstacles, avoiding bright lights, and giving your dog nutritional supplements that may help protect the remaining photoreceptor cells.
Regular eye exams by a veterinarian can help monitor the progression of the disease.
Preventing Canine Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an inherited disorder, and the best way to prevent it is to avoid breeding dogs with the disease. If you are considering breeding a dog that is known to be affected by PRA, it’s important to have them tested for the specific mutation responsible for PRA in their breed. This will help ensure that any puppies produced will not be affected by the disease.