Corneal Disease (Inherited) Average Cost

From 77 quotes ranging from $200 - 3,500

Average Cost

$600

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What is Corneal Disease (Inherited)?

Inherited corneal disease, called corneal dystrophy, is a fairly common problem in dogs. About 20 breeds of dogs have some version of the disorder, but in most cases the mode of inheritance isn’t known. The cornea is the outer barrier of the eye that protects the anterior chamber, the pupil, and the iris. It is made up of the stroma in the middle, with a thin epithelial and endothelial layer on the outer and inner sides. Corneal dystrophy in dogs can affect different layers of the cornea. Dogs will develop irregular opaque patches of white or gray discoloration. These are often large oval or donut shapes, but sometimes the discoloration may appear as small white flecks. Most conditions are progressive, developing slowly over time. With the most common form of stromal dystrophy, dogs don’t experience discomfort or vision loss and no treatment is required. However, epithelial and endothelial dystrophies often cause blisters or corneal ulceration which can be painful, impair vision, and even result in blindness. The type of dystrophy and age of onset is usually breed specific. Corneal dystrophies are bilateral (affecting both eyes equally) and non-inflammatory. Secondary conditions that are not inherited (called corneal degeneration) can result from various eye diseases, inflammation or injury to the eye. Corneal degenerations can appear similar to dystrophies and are sometimes confused, but degenerations frequently only affect one eye.

Inherited corneal disease in dogs causes areas of discoloration on the cornea. Veterinarians call this corneal dystrophy. Many dogs don’t experience pain or vision loss, but in some breeds, corneal dystrophies can cause corneal ulcerations and even blindness.

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Symptoms of Corneal Disease (Inherited) in Dogs

These are some of the signs you might see in a dog with corneal dystrophy.

  • Discolored area in the center of the eye
  • Opaque grey or white area
  • Round, oval, or donut shaped discoloration
  • Swelling or excess fluid in the cornea
  • Blue appearance to the eye
  • Signs of eye pain (excessive tear production, squinting, scratching at the eye)
  • Decreased vision

Types

Types of corneal dystrophies can be divided into what part of the cornea they affect.

  • Epithelial (outer layer) is episodic erosion which may lead to corneal ulcers; breeds affected: Boxers, Shetland Sheepdogs
  • Stromal (middle layer) is the most common type in dogs, sometimes called corneal lipidosis; in most breeds, progression is slow and symptoms are limited to discoloration; breeds affected: Siberian Husky, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Samoyeds, Pointers, German Shepherds, Bichon Frises (doesn’t usually cause vision problems), Airedale Terriers and Beagles (leads to impaired vision)
  • Endothelial (inner layer) begins as excess fluid and painless swelling of the cornea; as the disease develops, painful blisters and ulcers often form and may lead to decreased vision and blindness; breeds affected: Boston Terriers (especially females), Chihuahuas, Dachshunds

Causes of Corneal Disease (Inherited) in Dogs

Corneal dystrophies are an inherited disease. They are more common in specific breeds, but they could occur in any dog.

  • In most breeds the specific genetic sequence hasn’t been studied 
  • In Airedales, it is believed to be sex-linked, while in Siberian Huskies it is a recessive trait 
  • Depending on the breed, dystrophies may become noticeable as early as 4 or 5 months (Airedale Terriers, Shetland Sheepdogs and Siberian Huskies) or as late as 9 to 13 years (Chihuahuas and Beagles)
  • The majority of dogs become affected sometime in middle age (approximately 3-7 years)

Corneal degeneration is a non-inherited form of the disease that can occur secondary to some other problems.

  • Corneal ulcerations
  • Inflammation or injury to the eye (phthisis bulbi)
  • Diseases which prevent the eye from closing (lagophthalmos)
  • Overuse of NSAID’s

Diagnosis of Corneal Disease (Inherited) in Dogs

Your dog’s symptoms will help the veterinarian identify the problem, both discolored areas in the eye and signs of eye pain or decreased vision. Examination under a microscope will reveal deposits in the discolored area or a cloudy overall appearance. Fluorescein dye can help to identify ulcers or blisters. The veterinarian may need to test for other potential causes, like inflammation or infection, especially since some other acquired conditions may be more treatable.

Since dystrophies are inherited, your dog’s breed and family history will be necessary for an accurate diagnosis. Any history of eye disease or injury can also be relevant since these conditions may suggest the condition is an acquired degeneration. If your dog has used NSAID’s for an extended period of time, this can be another reason for a differential diagnoses.

Treatment of Corneal Disease (Inherited) in Dogs

For dystrophy with stromal deposits but no other symptoms, treatment usually isn’t necessary. The veterinarian may recommend frequent check-ups to monitor the condition.

Most treatments focus on eliminating the symptoms that cause discomfort for your dog. Medicated eye drops will be prescribed to treat erosion and ulcers in the epithelial layer of the eye. This can help to heal the lesions, but the problem may still recur periodically. If your dog has chronic severe problems, surgery may be necessary to remove the area of discoloration. The veterinarian will recommend a specialist ophthalmologist. In some cases, the discolored area may reform after surgery.

For edema (fluid retention) associated with the early stages of endothelial degeneration, the veterinarian may prescribe hyperosmotic drops to facilitate water removal. Medicated drops can also help heal ulcers and blisters as they form. For chronic problems, specialist surgical procedures are necessary. Thermokeratoplasty, a treatment that flattens the cornea, can sometimes help to eliminate the problem. You should discuss the risks and the likely outcome with your veterinarian or a specialist before deciding on any surgical treatment.

Recovery of Corneal Disease (Inherited) in Dogs

The most common types of stromal dystrophies don’t cause pain or vision problems and many dogs live long lives with this condition. The discoloration may get worse over time, but often no other symptoms are noted.

In some breeds that tend to develop ulcers, intermittent medical treatment and drops may be necessary to reduce pain and discomfort. If your dog experiences vision loss or blindness, you may need to manage this condition by helping him learn to get around without sight and blocking off any hazardous areas in your house, at least until he become accustomed to the new situation. Blind dogs can still live fulfilling lives.

If the veterinarian recommends surgical treatment, this may be a helpful option for your dog. In some cases surgery may completely eliminate the problem, in others you may still need to manage some symptoms after the operation. It’s a good idea not to breed any dog with corneal dystrophy, even if it’s a stromal dystrophy that isn’t causing a problem. Some offspring could inherit a more severe form of the disease and breeders prefer to reduce instances as much as possible.

Corneal Disease (Inherited) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Paisley
Ratt terrier
4 years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Can it be all of a sudden? We have a mixed breed of a Pomeranian and rat terrier and has 2 cloudy eyes with a greenish glare in her eyes both are irritating her. We went to a vet she said it's an ulcer on her cornea but it's affecting both eyes and we do not understand what's going on

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3000 Recommendations
A corneal ulcer is easy to diagnose by doing a Schirmer tear test (to see if there is a decrease in tear production) and a fluorescein dye test which would show any ulcers on the cornea. If there is a condition like keratoconjunctivitis sicca, it may affect both eyes at the same time; I cannot say for sure that it is ulcers and the green you are seeing may be due to the tapetum lucidum which allows dogs to see better in the dark. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Jane
Scottish Terrier
4 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

corneal ulcer

My 4 year old Scottish Terrier has been diagnosed by an Opthamologist with corneal epithelial dystrophy. She has developed corneal ulcers a few times and then they heal.
I noticed yesterday she has a new small corneal ulcer, there is discharge and she is squinting. Please advise if the correct treatment is Exocin drops and the dosage you would recommend? Should she also get pain medication? Thanks!

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1415 Recommendations
Exocin seems to be a very appropriate medication for corneal ulcers, but without seeing Jane, there is no way that I can diagnose or treat her. If she has this condition, you may need to see your veterinarian when she gets an ulcer. If you have seen them recently and have a relationship with them, you may be able to call and let them know what is going on, and see what they recommend.

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Corgin
Corgi
4 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Tearing
Watering
Squinting

Medication Used

terramycin

My corgi has a small speck like dot (size of a gnat) on her eyeball. It's opaque and white/grayish in color. The vet thought it was a corneal ulceration that's healed but it's still causing her discomofrt. She squints and her eye constantly waters.

What could this be? A lipid deposit? She's a healthy dog with no other symptoms. Still energetic as ever and hasn't gained or lost any weight.

Please help!

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3000 Recommendations
Conditions like lipid keratopathy among others may account for inclusions but without an examination I cannot say specifically what the cause is; if there are signs of irritation for Corgin you should consider visiting an Ophthalmologist for an examination to try and diagnose and treat the issue. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Daisy
Boxer
Not known
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Discharge from eyes
Glazing over eyes

I have boxer and she had goopy eyes every morning or after sleeping. It looks a lot like snot. Same color, except when it dries. We were told she has allergies, but the condition has persisted for over a year. What are my options to treat her without incurring vet costs?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3000 Recommendations

If the eye discharge is caused by allergies, administering plain old Benadryl at a dose of 0.25mg/kg (0.5mg/lb) every 8 to 12 hours to see if that alleviates symptoms. It would be best to try to find out the cause of the allergy (if there is an allergy) by doing elimination tests which can be difficult or impossible if the allergen is airborne. Other causes are possible, but would require a Veterinary visit and tests. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Toby
Siberian Husky
4 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Cloudy looking eyes

Out of the blue we noticed our dog to have a very irritated eye. We thought maybe it was just pink eye. After research some sites said it might just pass. Well it only got worse, it turned extremely cloudy. And now the other eye is the same way. We took him to the vet, they checked his eyes said there was nothing in his eye and there didn’t appear to be any lacerations. They werent sure what it could be so sent us home with a 10 day steroid topical. His eyes have remained very cloudy which is extremely unfortunate because he had beautiful blue eyes. After furthering my research it seams that he may have corneal dystrophy. He is only 4 years old. Is there anything I can do? I don’t really want to keep going back to the vet to spend $100’s more for them to say there’s nothing to be done.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1415 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Without examining Toby, I cannot recommend any treatments for an undiagnosed condition. What might be a good idea, since his eyes did not respond to the inital therapy, would be to ask for a referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist, where they may have a better idea as to what is going on, and what can be done about it. I hope that he recovers uneventfully.

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None yet
Husky
2 Weeks
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Eye Clouding

We are in the process of purchasing a Siberian Husky puppy and when her eyes opened they noticed a white ring on her pupil. Not a solid circle. No discharge. They started her on an antibiotic ointment to see if that will help. What could it be besides a possible abrasion?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3000 Recommendations
It sounds like the pup may have corneal dystrophy, but this would need to be confirmed by a Veterinarian; treatment in case of infection or other cause may be given but may be unrewarding. If there is no improvement, I would recommend a pre purchase examination by a Veterinarian especially if your intention is to breed with this pup. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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