Corneal Dystrophy in Dogs

Overview of Canine Corneal Dystrophy

Corneal endothelial dystrophy is a primary, inherited, bilateral (both sides), often symmetrical condition of the cornea that is not accompanied by corneal inflammation or systemic disease. It involves a malfunction of the inner layer (endothelium) of the cornea that is responsible for keeping the cornea dry and clear by pumping fluid from the cornea into the front chamber of the eye. With endothelial dystrophy there is a premature degeneration and failure of this pumping mechanism.

Corneal endothelial dystrophy is seen in dogs, and is known to occur in the Boston terrier, Chihuahua, and miniature dachshund. It also affects young domestic shorthair and Manx cats, although it is rare in cats.

The age of onset for this condition is quite variable. In the Boston terrier it may occur between 5-9 years of age, in the Chihuahua between 6-13 years of age and in the dachshund between 8-11 years of age.

What to Watch For

Diagnostic Tests for Corneal Dystrophy in Dogs

Treatment of Corneal Dystrophy in Dogs

This disease is difficult to treat because it is irreversible and progressive. There is no available treatment to restore the pumping mechanism of the endothelium. Treatment is administered to prevent progression and to treat symptoms.

Home Care and Prevention for Dogs with Corneal Dystrophy

It is important to follow the instructions given to you by your veterinarian. Once the sodium chloride medication is instituted, it is usually given for life. Periodic examinations are required to monitor the disease and to make adjustments in the medication. Animals that suddenly become painful (squinting, tearing) should be seen immediately by your veterinarian.