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Retinal Diseases

What is the retina?

The retina is a thin structure in the back of the eye that contains the cells responsible for vision. These cells detect light and shadows and send signals to the brain via the optic nerve to create a recognizable image.

retinal-disease
retinal-disease-diagram

How will I know if my pet has a retinal issue?

Since the retina is necessary for vision, retinal problems most often manifest as either partial or complete visual deficit. The most common signs are bumping into walls and furniture, inability to fetch toys, and being easily startled. Sometimes visual problems are noted only in certain lighting conditions (i.e. light vs. dark or day vs night). In animals with only partial vision loss or in those that become blind in only one eye, it is much more difficult to detect a problem at home because animals can compensate extremely well.

If you have concerns about your pet’s vision, a detailed ophthalmic evaluation can be performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist including examination of light reflexes and vision, visualization of the fundus (retina and optic nerve), ocular ultrasound and electroretinography. The results of these diagnostic tests provide essential information regarding treatment and prognosis for your animal’s vision.

Why would my pet have a retinal problem?

Retinal disease can be confined to the eye or can be a sign of more serious illness. The retina may be affected by primary inherited or developmental abnormalities, certain infections, blood pressure, metabolic diseases, immune-mediated diseases, or degenerative changes. It is always important to try to determine the underlying cause of an animal’s retinal disease in order to determine the most appropriate therapy and prognosis. Some retinal diseases cause irreversible blindness and some can be treated with medications or surgery.

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