Source: Red Bluff Daily News
UPDATED: 09/26/2014 07:49:19 AM PDT
Life wasn’t looking too bright last year for Cyrus, a 10-year-old German shorthaired pointer. Not only had he lost his home, he was also losing his sight.
Living in a shelter, Cyrus was suffering from corneal endothelial dystrophy (CED), a disease in the eyes that causes premature degeneration of endothelial cells, which are critical to pumping fluid out of the cornea and maintaining transparency.
CED is a devastating disease in dogs that can result in blindness and severe ocular pain from secondary complications. The endothelial cells comprise the most inner aspect of the cornea and are responsible for maintaining a proper fluid balance. This function is critical to ensuring that the cornea remains transparent for vision.
In many animals, including dogs, corneal endothelial cells have a very limited capacity to regenerate following injury. In canine patients with CED, the endothelial cells degenerate until the cells still remaining can no longer function properly.
This results in swelling of the cornea which results in decreased vision, as well as formation of small fluid-filled blisters on the cornea which can rupture and cause ocular discomfort.
There are palliative treatments such as hypertonic saline to decrease corneal bullae formation, but the only definitive treatment for this condition is a corneal transplant. Unfortunately, corneal transplants are rarely performed in canine patients with CED due to the expense of the surgery and follow-up care, relatively high risk of complications and lack of appropriate donor tissue.
CED is seen more commonly in German shorthaired pointers in comparison to many other breeds. This observation suggests that this disease may have a genetic component. Luckily for Cyrus and others, the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital is conducting a clinical trial to identify the region of the dog genome associated with CED in German shorthaired pointers.
“Based on the results of Cyrus’ CED study, I was worried that he may not be a good candidate for the surgery,” said Dr. Sara Thomasy. “His corneas were the thickest of any dogs on which this surgery had been performed.”
The prior surgery trial — conducted in conjunction with Animal Eye Center in Rocklin — was performed to discover the efficacy of an alternative to corneal transplant surgery. The alternative surgery trial showed promising results in nine enrolled patients, one of which was a German shorthaired pointer.
Cyrus underwent a successful surgery in March. At three months following surgery, he had markedly improved corneal clarity and vision.
UC Davis is still actively recruiting new candidates to find the genetic cause for CED in several dog breeds. If you have a German shorthaired pointer, German wirehaired pointer or a Boston terrier with CED, get in touch with Thomasy via email at email@example.com or call 530 752-1770.