HEREDITARY EYE DISEASES
American Cockers can develop a hereditary form of cataracts at any time from a very early age. Healthy eyes are transparent, but a dog with cataract has a cloudy eye with a lens which can turn crystalline. A cataract causes dimness of vision and as the condition worsens, loss of sight. Most cataracts occur in older dogs, although some arise through injury, and others, particularly in younger dogs, through a defective lens. They can also occur due to diabetes. Under certain clinical conditions, cataracts can be removed and vision partly restored. Special lenses can sometimes be inserted to improve the vision further.
GLAUCOMA AND RETINAL DISEASE
Glaucoma is a very painful eye condition characterised by the swelling of the eyeball and impaired sight. It is due to an increase in intro-ocular pressure within the eye. It can be caused by PRA, dislocation of the lens, congenital defects or other eye diseases. It may cause the dog to have a permanent headache and surgery may be required, in some cases, to remove the affected eye.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a disease of the retina at the back of the eye. Also called "night blindness" since it is most evident as the light fails. The pupils dilate widely, even in strong light, to correct the fault. Healthy retinas have a generous blood supply, whilst atrophic retinas have fewer and thinner blood vessels. This condition, where the Retina slowly "die? usually affects dogs over the age of 5. It is a disease for which there is no cure and the condition will worsen until the dog becomes blind.
Multi-focal retinal dysplasia. Evident only by examination of the eye by a specialist, this condition is seen as folds in the retina at the back of the eye. This condition can improve as the eye matures and the dog ages.
Inward-growing eyelashes which brush the eye as the eyelids flicker, causing pain and inflammation. Treatment is usually required to remove the offending lashes.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HEALTH SCREENING.
Responsible American Cocker Owners will have their dogs tested under the B V A/KC Eye testing Scheme. The tests will determine if the dog is affected by any of the conditions described and if so, should NEVER be bred from.