Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

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Corneal Dystrophy


What is corneal dystrophy?

Any of several diseases that cause degeneration of the cornea, the clear covering over the front of the eye.  Most are inherited but one type, which some argue should be called corneal degeneration, is not.  These diseases cause opacities of the cornea which may advance.  Inherited forms are bilateral (both eyes.)

How do I know if my dog has corneal dystrophy?

If you notice an opacity (cloudy spot) in your dog’s cornea, have it seen by a veterinary ophthalmologist.  Most corneal dystrophy cases are identified during eye exams.

What does having corneal dystrophy mean for my dog?

The disease is usually non-painful, but signs vary from breed to breed.  Some can advance to blindness, some will develop corneal ulcers which are painful and require treatment.  The disease cannot be cured.  Fortunately, cases noted in Aussies have usually been minor.

How common is corneal dystrophy in Aussies?

Very rare.

Is corneal dystrophy inherited in Aussies?

Corneal dystrophy can be an inherited in some breeds, but hasn’t been identified as such in Aussies.

What does corneal dystrophy mean for my breeding program?

If the dog has disease severe enough to require treatment, don’t breed it just to be safe.  Dogs with minor disease might be bred but not to other dogs with corneal dystrophy or those with near kin that are affected, again to be safe.  This may not be an inherited issue in Aussies.