Sunday, January 11, 2009

Corneal Dystrophy

My poor crazy dog has been poked and podded. She's had stains and drops put in her eyes. She's been so good throughout the whole thing but I think she says enough is enough.

We went back to vet this week to recheck her eyes and for bloodwork. Her eyes are still a little runny, and the spots haven't changed. The spots still don't look like corneal ulcers. They just look like cholesterol deposits. We decided to do bloodwork to rule out a few things including thyroid deficiency. Poor Iris, they had to draw blood from her front leg and her back leg to get enough.

Anyway, all of Iris' bloodwork came back normal, which is good. That leaves us with either corneal dystrophy or the less likely possibility that they're caused by the irritation from her allergies. Dr K really thinks that it's corneal dystrophy because both eyes are nearly symmetrical and the spots are located towards the center of her eye.

Corneal dystrophy is inherited but is not common in Aussies. According to the ASHGI about 1 in 200 Aussies are affected, but at least some of those cases are actually caused by thyroiditis. Iris' thyroid level are normal, so it seems like it's just dumb luck that she ended up with one of the uncommon genetic problems for the breed. This article from the Animal Eye Specialists is the best information I've found, and it really does describe what's going on with Iris. It's also one of the only websites I've seen that lists Australian Shepherds as one of the breeds that can be affected.

Unfortunately, there's not really anything we can do about it. Right now, the spots don't seem to affect her vision, and the vet thinks they're still translucent enough that they probably don't bother her. They could get worse and they could start to affect her vision. But they might not and there's no way to know if they ever will get worse.

As far as how runny her eyes are, she's on drops for another week to see if it will help. While I do think her eyes are significantly better than they were a month ago, they're not completely cleared up. Hopefully this will take care of it. The vet didn't seem concerned at all and didn't seem to think we need to pursue any sort of treatment if her eyes don't stop running. A lot of dogs just have tear stains all the time. It probably is an environmental allergy, although I was hoping the carpets would have stopped bothering her by now. The thing is, I had her for a year and her eyes were fine. It's only been a problem since the fall I think? It started before we moved into the apartment, but not too long before. But I'm starting to run out of ideas for things than I actually can change in the apartment.

I'm still thinking about switching her to a raw diet. Maybe if I can improve her overall health, she'll have an easier time dealing with environmental allergies? Otherwise, I feel like we're at a bit of a dead end.


Jules said...

Oh, Drat!! Once you mentioned the "three-s" I was hoping that Iris' diagnosis would have a definitive - easy fix. I am sorry.

As to diet changes - I am firmly in the camp that a raw diet does put your dog in the best possible position to be balanced. At the same time I do know (from personal experience) that not every diet works for all dogs. With Ike I slowly started adding grains back into his diet because he seemed to do better on them. And with his GI distress I am totally willing to go homecooked if the CVH says I need to. (To date he says to stay on the raw).

LMk if you'd like to borrow the books I have on raw. I could bring them to class.

Poor Ms. Iris. :-(

Katrin said...

I agree with Julie "Oh drat!" sheesh what bad luck. hopefully though the spots will not progress and she will be able to see ok for the rest of her life.

Blue said...

Julie - That would be great if I could borrow your raw feeding books. :)

I've just been researching on the internet so far, and then it got pushed to the back of my mind when I was trying to figure out what was going on with Iris' eyes.