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Covid 19 Ophthalmology for Animals - August 6, 2020

Veterinary care is an essential part of our community and we want to assure you that our hospital is open and will continue to provide services at this time. We also want to work with you and our staff to limit direct contact in order to focus on safety for everyone during this pandemic. Accordingly, we ask that you follow the below steps for the safety of all:

  • Upon arrival at the hospital, please remain in your vehicle and call us.
  • After receipt of the call, we will check you in as soon as possible from outside the hospital.
  • If you are at the hospital to pick up medication, please remain in your car outside the hospital and call the front desk. We will deliver your order to your car as quickly as possible.
  • If you are not feeling well or may be at risk of exposure to coronavirus, please ask a healthy friend or family member to transport your pet to the hospital on your behalf.
  • We will do our best to coordinate your visit from outside the hospital, including providing follow up instructions and taking payments.

Ophthalmology for Animals, Inc., we have various ways to help care for your pets without a trip or call to the hospital.

  1. Home Delivery: medications, including prescriptions and refills, can be ordered by sending us an email or text
  2. Email: your questions, concerns, prescription refills, and pictures. We will do our best to respond in a timely manner.

Our goal is to keep our essential services available to the communities we serve and be there for you and your pets. Thank you for your cooperation and for doing your part in helping to keep pets and people safe, and please don’t hesitate to call with questions.

We anticipate our phone lines will be busier than usual, and therefore, we appreciate your patience!

Sudden Blindness

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Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome has been recognized among dogs in the United States for several decades. Animals are characteristically presented with sudden blindness and normal to near-normal ophthalmic findings, and many can develop weight gain, increased appetite and thirst, and increased urination either before or at the same time vision is lost. Because of the acute onset, most dogs are quite disoriented. In most patients, vision loss occurs during the course of days to weeks, and night vision loss may be noted first. The mean age of affliction is 7-10 years. The syndrome occurs predominately in middle-aged neutered females, in both pure and mixed breeds with a predisposition for Dachshund, Miniature Schnauzer, Pug, Brittany Spaniel, Bichon Frise, Beagle, Maltese, American Cocker Spaniel, Pomeranian, and possibly Shih Tzu breeds. There are sometimes bloodwork abnormalities consistent with metabolic disease, so blood tests are indicated. In acute cases a retinal function test called an Electroretinogram (ERG) is the diagnostic test of choice to confirm the diagnosis, with extinguished ERG results in all cases.

The cause of SARDS is still unknown and is an active area of current research within veterinary ophthalmology. There are also currently clinical trials being performed at the University of California, Davis and North Carolina State University. Epidemiological questionnaires have suggested that stress (for example, boarding, hospitalization, and home construction) may be a factor in the development of blindness in some dogs. Speculation by researchers is that this disease syndrome likely is the manifestation of several disease processes, all with the ultimate symptom of blindness. Response in some patients to immunosuppressive therapy suggests that many of these dogs have immune mediated disease. Many dogs with this disease have other immune mediated diseases such as allergies or inflammatory bowel disease.

Targeted therapy for this disease is difficult because we still do not have a firm understanding of what causes it. We have had a few patients recover and retain some (limited) vision with oral steroids or mycophenolate (both immunosuppressive medications). The recovered vision in these dogs can be temporary or long term with continued treatment. More chronic cases or cases with metabolic abnormalities (Cushings-like illness) do not respond well. The use of intravenous immunoglobulin is expensive but anecdotally can help. This drug should be administered under the care of an internist or critical care specialist because of side effects. The use of intravitreal injections is not without risks but should be considered in the case of certain blindness. Strong immunosuppressive medications have worked to maintain day vision in a few of our patients, but these drugs have side effects so bloodwork must be monitored over time. The risks associated with immunosuppression must also be weighed, as this increases susceptibility to infections, and impairs the immune system’s ability to fight infections, and slows healing.