Corneal Dystrophy in Dogs

Corneal Dystrophy in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
Corneal Dystrophy in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Corneal Dystrophy?

There is sometimes confusion between corneal dystrophy and corneal degradation, which are similar in clinical symptoms, but corneal degradation is not thought to be genetic. Many breeds are affected by corneal dystrophy. Unfortunately, the condition appears to affect each breed differently. In all dogs, corneal dystrophy is caused by a genetic disturbance in how fat is metabolized. The result is a white or gray clouding of the eye. It generally starts in one eye but always affects both. In most breeds, it does not cause discomfort or blindness. In a smaller list of breeds the disorder is more progressive and can lead to more severe complications.

Corneal dystrophy refers to the clouding of the cornea from an inherited condition.

Corneal Dystrophy Average Cost

From 561 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Corneal Dystrophy in Dogs

At the onset, corneal dystrophy usually appears as a white or grayish round “cloud” at the center of the eye. If ulcers are present the dog may give signs of irritated eyes, rubbing, and itching. The spots are usually round but sometimes donut shaped. Symptoms vary widely between breeds.  The affliction can seemingly appear at any age,in as little as four months in Airedale Terriers and as late as thirteen years in Chihuahuas. In some breeds, the trait is thought to be sex linked.

  • White or grayish cloud in the center of the eye
  • Irritated eyes

Types

There are many types of corneal disease and degradation. However, corneal dystrophy itself has not been further classified. Dogs affected with a slower, less severe version of corneal dystrophy are often:

  • Siberian Husky
  • Samoyed
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Beagle
  • German Shepherd
  • Pointer
  • Bichon Frise
  • Poodle

Dogs who experience a more aggressive version of corneal dystrophy are often:

  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Airedale Terrier
  • Boston Terrier
  • Dachshund
  • Chihuahua
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Causes of Corneal Dystrophy in Dogs

Corneal dystrophy is an inherited condition affecting the ability of the cells to process fat. It is an autosomal recessive trait, meaning both the dam and the sire must carry the gene in order for the puppy to be affected, at least in some breeds. In other breeds, the mode of inheritance appears to be sex-linked. In still other breeds, the mode of inheritance has not been identified.

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Diagnosis of Corneal Dystrophy in Dogs

Diagnosis is made from the observation of the lesion. This can be done by the use of a fluorescein dye which may clearly define the problem.  Further testing of the eye may include intraocular pressure and tear test. Blood work is often done to verify markers in the blood consistent with this condition, such as cholesterol. An eye specialist may be brought on board by your veterinarian to rule out other corneal diseases or degradation.

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Treatment of Corneal Dystrophy in Dogs

In most cases, treatment is not needed. If the condition does not progress rapidly, cause the dog discomfort, or affect vision, often the best course is to leave the eye alone. Your dog may notice the spot on his eye for a while but his brain will train him to see past it without annoyance much like your brain will do the same for you. 

Because the condition has to do with the process of fat, sometimes a low fat, high fiber diet is recommended. There is some disagreement among researchers as to whether or not a low-fat diet is effective. The general consensus is that the fat should be lower than 10% in dry matter (kibble) and adherence in all foods and treats is needed to see results. 

Sometimes in cases of corneal dystrophy a topical acid treatment (TCA) may be recommended. This treatment may be done once or more times to aid in comfort. It helps to dissolve the mineral deposits that leads to ulcers.

In severe cases of corneal dystrophy, surgery to remove the mineral deposits can be recommended. As with any surgery, complications can arise. At times, scar tissue remains where the mineral deposits were. Other more severe complications can lead to rupture of the eye or retinal detachment. Although complications are rare, some can lead to blindness. Because corneal dystrophy sometimes is associated with Cushing’s disease, testing for that should be done after diagnosis.

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Worried about the cost of Corneal Dystrophy treatment?

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Recovery of Corneal Dystrophy in Dogs

There is no real recovery from corneal dystrophy. Management, unfortunately, depends on the severity of the case. Most cases do not lead to severe discomfort for the dog and they can lead a normal life. There is currently no certification required of breeders to prove dogs in their breeding program do not possess the inherited gene. Unfortunately, because some dogs do not develop the affliction until later in life, it can be difficult to remove them from a breeding program before they have been bred many times, possibly affecting many dogs.

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Corneal Dystrophy Average Cost

From 561 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Corneal Dystrophy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Lacy

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Bichon Frise

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16 Years

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5 found helpful

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5 found helpful

Has Symptoms

I have a question about my 16 year Bichon Frise, Lacy. She has had a tiny white spot in the exact middle of her right eye (cornea/pupil-?) that in the right light looks like a tiny white crater for about 6 months. I seemed to really notice after she had her teeth cleaned and some moles removed in March 2018 and with this she was put under anesthesia. She has seen her Vet twice with this among other things she is developing along with CKD. She squints most of the time especially out in the sun and if you go to pet her she backs away and put her head down with a tremble like i am going to hit her which i would never do. Could this be some type of Corneal Dystrophy. Current Meds Tobramycin Ophthalmic Solution was given for 10 days and then Artificial Tears Ointment that she is on now but none of this seems like it is giving her any relief and wondering if she is in pain with this. Would love to get your thoughts. THANK YOU!!!

Aug. 19, 2018

Lacy's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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5 Recommendations

It is possible that Lacy has a chronic ulcer, and if she is trembling when you come near her eye, it may be painful. I think that it would be a good idea to have a referral to an ophthalmologist since this has been going on for so long, and she may need different therapy. I hope that she is okay.

Aug. 19, 2018

Thank you so much for the information. I have started her back on the Tobramycin Drops (Saturday 8/18) and it seems to be doing much better, i have a follow-up Vet appointment 8/23. Thanks again!!!

Aug. 21, 2018

Lacy's Owner

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Buttercup

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Cocker Spaniel / poodle

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2 Years

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1 found helpful

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1 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Eye Inflamation
Eye Clouding
Eye Redness

Hello, my dog is 2 years old and she is a cocker spaniel/poodle mix. Recently she has developed a white bean /oval shaped spot on her eye. It does not look like it is cataracts or glaucoma as it is not cloudy. It seems as if it is growing on top of the eye. It does not bother her however she does sometimes develop eye boogers but that happens mostly when i take her outside around a lot of dirt and grass and it goes away after I use a hot compress and clean it often. could this be corneal dystrophy?

July 24, 2018

Buttercup's Owner

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1 Recommendations

It is possible that this is due to corneal dystrophy, however there are three types of corneal dystrophy depending on the specific layer of the cornea: epithelial, stromal and endothelial. We do see Spaniels (among a few other breeds) affected by stromal corneal dystrophy than the other types; however, you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination as I cannot confirm the diagnosis without examining Buttercup myself. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 25, 2018

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Corneal Dystrophy Average Cost

From 561 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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