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Vision Problems in Dogs & Signs of Blindness

Vision Problems in Dogs & Signs of Blindness

Like their pet parents, dogs can lose their vision and struggle with the challenges of going blind. Today, our Cordova vets explain how to spot the early signs of visual impairment in your dog, and what you should do if you suspect your dog may be losing their sight.

Dogs are truly extraordinary animals, and for many of us, our canine companions are a significant part of their family. 

Your dog's eyes can share vital information about the state of their overall physical health. Serious conditions such as liver disease, diabetes, anemia, poisoning, head trauma, pain, auto-immune diseases, and cancer can all present indicators in the health of your pup's eyes. By spotting the symptoms of eye conditions early, your vet may be able to help your dog's eyes feel more comfortable, and possibly preserve or restore your dog's vision. 

Symptoms of Vision Problems

Whether it's due to aging or other health conditions, below are a few of the most common symptoms that suggest your dog may be losing their vision:

      • Cloudy appearance of the eye
      • Your dog is bumping into objects
      • Signs of anxiety or hesitation when in new places
      • Your dog is suddenly unwilling to go up or down stairs, or jump onto furniture which they normally did
      • Eyes are red, puffy or swollen
      • Obvious eye irritation or pawing at face
      • If your dog seems confused, dazed, easily startled


Visual impairments can occur in dogs due to aging, disease, injury, and hereditary conditions. In fact, your dog's natural aging process can sometimes include vision loss, ranging from minor issues to complete blindness. That said, it's important for pet parents to understand that occasionally blindness itself isn't the primary issue, but rather a symptom of an underlying condition, such as heart disease, kidney or liver disorders, or systemic diseases.

Some of the most common causes of vision loss in dogs include: 


  • Sadly, our vets are seeing an increasing number of dogs suffering from diabetes. Dogs at a higher risk of becoming diabetic include older large breeds, breeding females, dogs that have poor nutrition, and obese dogs. 75% of dogs with diabetes are likely to develop cataracts which can result in full or partial blindness.


  • Cataracts are easily spotted by pet parents. If your dog has progressed cataracts you may notice a cloudy appearance to your dog's eye. This condition stops light from fully reaching the retina and can lead to total blindness in dogs. In some cases, cataracts can be operated on which may prevent blindness, but early intervention is essential.


  • Glaucoma is a painful eye condition which feels similar to a migraine headache. Treatment is available for glaucoma however, the outcomes are best if the condition is diagnosed in its earliest stages. If your dog has yellow or green discharge from their eyes, dilated pupils, bloodshot eyes, or is slow to react to bright light, visit your vet as soon as possible. Left untreated this painful condition can lead to partial or complete blindness.

Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome

  • Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS) causes a deterioration of the retina, which leads to blindness in both of the dog's eyes. This syndrome develops very quickly in dogs and can result in total blindness in just a few days or weeks. Due to the sudden nature of this condition, dogs with SARDS can have a very difficult time adjusting to their visual impairment.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), is a painless condition that results in the deterioration of the retina, potentially leading to blindness in both of the dog's eyes. PRA is an inherited condition that develops at a slower rate than SARDS, which can give your dog time to adjust to their loss of sight.

Treatment of Vision Problems in Dogs

Typically, the conditions that cause loss of vision for dogs will not go away on their own. Early intervention is essential when it comes to helping your dog cope with their loss of vision, or to treat the condition and perhaps preserve your dog's eyesight.

In some cases, conditions that could lead to blindness may trigger other health issues, or your dog's blindness could turn out to be a symptom of a larger medical concern. Making an appointment with your vet for a full examination is the best way to prevent further complications, and possibly save your dog's sight.

Veterinary Ophthalmology at Memphis Veterinary Specialists & Emergency

At Memphis Veterinary Specialists & Emergency our board certified veterinary ophthalmologist uses a cutting-edge approach to your dog’s eye care. Because there are certain pet eye conditions that can be reversed if they’re diagnosed in their early stages, we place a strong emphasis on the diagnostic portion of our ophthalmology services.

Some of the most common eye problems our ophthalmology specialists treat include:
  • Cataracts
  • Scratches / Abrasions
  • Drainage
  • Corneal Ulcers
  • Infections
  • Vision Loss
  • Tumors
  • Auto-Immune Conditions
  • Cataracts
  • Scratches / Abrasions
  • Drainage
  • Corneal Ulcers
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is having vision difficulties, speak to your primary care veterinarian about a referral to our veterinary ophthalmologist at our Cordova animal hospital

From Happy Pet Owners

  • “They saved my dog’s life three years ago with a spinal surgery. He’s still doing great!”
    Kevin C.

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