Pra in labrador retriever, what you must know

Perhaps you will feel sad thinking that your beloved Labrador Retriever is blind. You will surely feel sorry for him since he won’t be able to see and run after a colorful butterfly, he won’t be able to enjoy fetching the stick or the ball that you threw or cannot work and detect anymore. Losing the sense of sight will possibly hinder your Labrador Retriever from doing what he is used to do.

A Labrador Retriever born with healthy eyes may not always keep his good eye sight for the rest of his life. Sometimes, a dog may become blind either because of an accident or a disease. One of the diseases that could possibly lead to your pet’s blindness is Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Also called PRA, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, is a genetic disorder affecting dogs of certain breeds. This is a disease of a retina, causing progressive loss of vision and eventually lead to blindness.

The retina is an important part of the eye. This part contains photoreceptors that absorb the light gathered and focused on them by the eye’s lens. The light is then converted into electrical nerve signals and these nerve signals, through optic nerve, are carried to the brain and interpreted as vision. The photoreceptors in the retina are rods, for vision in darkness and cones, for vision in bright light and colors. PRA usually affects the rods first that is why early signs of this disease is night blindness. Later, the cones will be affected too, causing failure in their daytime vision.

As the disease progresses, the pupil of their eyes become increasingly dilated because of their attempt to gather more light. However, signs like redness, excess tearing or squinting may not be seen. What you will notice is a change in the characteristics of your dog. Your daring and curious dog may show reluctance going to dark places. Dogs with PRA may exhibit shine in their eyes and the lens of the eye may become cloudy or opaque.

PRA is diagnosed by observing the parts of the eye by a veterinary ophthalmologist. Test such as electroretinography may also be used to determine the presence of PRA. Unluckily, there is no cure for this disease neither slow the progression. However, dogs can adapt to progressive blindness and perform normally in their usual environment.

This disease affects some breeds early in life. Labrador Retrievers may have later onset but the bottom line is, they are still at risk. Breeders should always be careful in selecting dogs that are to be included in the breeding process to prevent the spread of the disease.