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  Corneal Dystrophy

 

Description or definition:

Corneal dystrophy is a general term for an inherited dysfunction of the cornea.   The term encompasses a group of diseases of the cornea (the transparent covering of the dogs eye) that are bilateral (present in both eyes), non-inflammatory, and inherited.  Some forms may be congenital (present at birth), but more frequently they occur during adolescence and progress gradually throughout life.  Some forms are mild, while others can be severe.

Symptoms:

Vary depending on the type of corneal dystrophy.  Corneal dystrophies all cause the cornea to become opaque, but in different ways and with varying severity. Often corneal dystrophies appear  as gray-white, crystalline or metallic looking areas in the center or cornea of the cornea.  In general, corneal dystrophies are usually not painful unless the condition leads to a secondary break in the epithelial (outer) layer of the cornea.  However, in more severe cases some forms of corneal dystrophy can lead to blindness. 

bulletLattice-like dystrophy: is seen as a cobweb of fine lines which develop into a lattice-like pattern.  This condition can develop in infancy, but is most often seen during the reproductive peak of life.  The condition can range from very mild to severe.
 
bulletGranular dystrophy: can be seen as small white dots in the center of the cornea or may take the form of lines radiating from the center of the cornea.  This condition usually starts while the pup is still young and the signs can increase in size and number as the dog matures.  By adulthood, opacities are visible to the naked eye.  Granular dystrophies are usually very mild and often go unnoticed.  Sight may remain unaffected even late in life.
 
bulletMacular dystrophy:  appears as a thin superficial corneal veil (haziness) with isolated opaque areas when seen with a slit lamp.  It is the least common type of dystrophy.  It usually starts during young adulthood.  Macular Dystrophy is a severe dystrophy which may cause considerable damage by mid-life.
 
bulletCrystalline corneal opacities: produces a gray haze and/or needle-like crystals within the cornea, spreading across its surface and, in some cases, obscuring the vision of the dog.  Although both eyes are affected, it may not be necessarily at the same time or to the same degree.
 
bulletLipid corneal dystrophy: is caused by fat deposits in the middle layer of the corneal cells.  The opaque areas can form a variety of patterns, and do not usually cause any problems with vision and generally does not require treatment.
bulletEndothelial corneal dystrophy: is a degeneration of the innermost layer of the corneal cells.  A build-up of fluid in the cornea (corneal edema) clouds the normally transparent cornea and may decrease vision.  Early in the disease, there are not many symptoms other than the opacity in the cornea.  As the disease progresses, the entire cornea becomes swollen and opaque.  Pockets of air can develop within the degenerated areas and cause corneal ulcers.  The corneal ulcers are treated with antibiotic ointment.  In severe cases, surgery, such as corneal transplants and corneal grafts are possible.
 
bulletEpithelial corneal dystrophy: is caused by a problem with the superficial layers of cells in the cornea, and can (but does not always) result in corneal ulcers.  The ulcers are painful and as a result the dog will usually hold its eye closed or blink often.  The treatment can be as simple as some antibiotic eye drops to treat the ulcer, or can require surgery to remove the abnormal corneal cell layers.

Diagnosis:

A veterinary ophthalmologist can diagnose corneal dystrophy through a routine “slit lamp” examination.  These anomalies, if present, can also be detected in a CERF exam.  Because some forms of corneal dystrophy can onset later in life, a normal CERF exam does not guarantee that the dog will not later develop a hereditary eye problem.

 

Treatment:

No medication will “dissolve” the opacity resulting from a corneal dystrophy. Surgical removal of the dystrophic area may temporarily decrease the opacity in cases of epithelial dystrophy.  However, new opaque area will often reform once the cornea has healed.  Many of the corneal dystrophies are mild, non painful, and do not require treatment.  If corneal ulcers develop they are generally treated with antibiotic ointment.  Corneal transplants or corneal grafts may be options for some dogs with more severe symptoms. 

 

Links to sites about this disease:

bullethttp://www.eyevet.info/corneal_dystrophy.html
bullethttp://www.barkbytes.com/medical/med0035.htm
bullethttp://www.mesavet.com/library/corneal_dystrophy.htm
bullethttp://www.vet.purdue.edu/~yshen/dx2.html
bullethttp://www.upei.ca/cidd/Diseases/ocular%20disorders/corneal%20dystrophy.htm
bullethttp://www.eyecareinfo.com/encyclopedia/endo_corneal_dist.shtml

 

This summary provided by:

bulletJessica S
bulletWildfire Kennel

 

 

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Copyright © 1998 - 2009. Shiloh Shepherd Dog™ Club of America.
All rights reserved. Revised: January 2008

The information on this website was written by ISSR breeders and other concerned individuals, however we are are NOT veterinarians. This information is being provided as a general overview, from information we were able to find about each disease through our own research. These summaries are not intended to be relied upon as medical or veterinary advice, nor do we consider ourselves experts in the veterinary field or in any of these conditions. While we do our best to provide the most up to date information, new research is constantly being done on these diseases. We recommend that you do further study and talk to your veterinarian on any topics you see here, as we cannot guarantee that the information posted here is the most current information available.  This site was originally designed and maintained by Debbie Knatz.