Synchysis Scintillans in Dogs

Synchysis Scintillans in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Synchysis Scintillans?

Synchysis scintillans is a type of degenerative condition that affects your dog’s eyes.  It is a rare but severe form of vitreous degeneration that typically affects older dogs, if at all.  Diagnosis can usually be done by examining the eye with an ophthalmoscope.  In some cases, further tests may need to be performed in order to confirm this condition.  If your dog does have synchysis scintillans, there is no treatment.  The majority of dogs do very well with their condition and very few experience any type of discomfort or secondary issues.

Synchysis scintillans is a rare condition that can affect one or both of your dog’s eyes.  If you notice something abnormal about your dog’s eye take him to his veterinarian for a consultation.

Symptoms of Synchysis Scintillans in Dogs

If synchysis scintillans is affecting your dog, you may notice:

  • Round particles in his eye that seem to float then sink towards the eye globe
  • Multiple, small, round, refractive particles within the vitreous
  • Slight vision impairment, but rare


Synchysis scintillans is a type of vitreous degeneration similar to the conditions of floaters and asteroid hyalosis.  It is the most severe form of degeneration within the vitreous.  It is most commonly seen in older dogs and can appear after episodes of intraocular inflammation.

Causes of Synchysis Scintillans in Dogs

Synchysis scintillans can cause vitreous opacity in your dog.  It is associated with retinal degeneration and is rare in canines.  In the liquefied vitreous part of the eye, cholesterol crystals form and display a ‘snowflake’ movement when the globe moves.  This condition typically occurs in older dogs and can also be known as cholesterolosis bulbi.

Diagnosis of Synchysis Scintillans in Dogs

Many times it is the owner who notices their dog’s abnormal eye appearance at home.  This leads them to bring their pet for a veterinary visit and therefore a proper diagnostic workup.  You may see multiple snowflake-like items that move or vibrate slightly when the eye moves and slowly sink towards the eye once it stops moving.  

While his main issue is with your dog’s eyes, your veterinarian will perform a full physical exam on him.  She will want to check his overall health just to ensure he is not experiencing any other issues.  When she examines his eyes, she will look with her ophthalmoscope.  This is a type of instrument that provides a view of the inside of your dog’s eye, magnified in order to see the structures easier.  It allows the veterinarian to check the retina and internal structures even if cataracts are present.  

To rule out other eye injury conditions, your veterinarian may want to perform multiple diagnostic tests.   She may want to perform a Schirmer’s tear test to check the tear production of the eye.  If the level is too low, then your dog could be suffering from dry eye and it is possibly leading to secondary issues.  She may also perform a fluorescein stain test to check for any ulcers or scratches on the surface of your dog’s eye.  

For imaging, your veterinarian may recommend utilizing ultrasound for diagnostic purposes.  With an ultrasound, the condition of synchysis scintillans produces a specific image allowing for a proper diagnosis.  An ultrasound is more sensitive and therefore provides better detection of vitreal degeneration than just the ophthalmoscope alone.  You may have to go to a specialist for this as every veterinarian is not trained in this type of diagnostics.  There are veterinary ophthalmologists that specialize in diagnosing and treating eye conditions specifically.

Treatment of Synchysis Scintillans in Dogs

The severity of the eye changes in your dog may determine any treatments the veterinarian may recommend.  Anti-inflammatories may be prescribed in a topical form for you to apply directly to your dog’s eye if needed.  Supportive therapies may be suggested, for example various vitamin mixtures can be helpful.  Surgical intervention may include a procedure known as a vitrectomy.  The purpose of the surgery is to remove a portion or all of the vitreous humor from the affected eye.  

When eyes are involved, the sooner you seek treatment the better.  Once the veterinary caregiver rules out other possible conditions and diagnoses your dog with synchysis scintillans, proper treatment can begin.  However, treatment is not often sought out as most dogs do very well without.

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Recovery of Synchysis Scintillans in Dogs

In more severe cases of synchysis scintillans, your dog’s vision may be slightly impaired but it is similar to that of a floater in the human eye; more of an annoyance.  The prognosis of the eye maintaining good vision and comfort is very good.  While this condition will not go away, your dog will be able to properly function and should not have any issues.

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