A dog born with one or two eyeballs that are too small suffers from microphthalmia. It is often a hereditary defect. Microphthalmia in dogs is a major handicap for the dog because the animal is often visually impaired or blind. Microphthalmia can occur in one or both eyes. In all cases, the eyeball is too deep in the socket, so that the eyelids can offer little support to the eyeball.
An abnormality of the eyeball often occurs because parents pass on an error in the same gene. This is more likely in certain dog breeds. Microphthalmia can also be caused by an accidental mistake, for example, if the mother dog suffers from infection during pregnancy or as a cause of certain medications.
The condition of microphthalmia in dogs is quickly recognized by a veterinarian. Certainly, in severe cases, it is quickly clear whether a dog has one or two eyeballs that are too small. If microphthalmia is suspected, the vet compares the size of the affected eyeball with that of a healthy breed companion.
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Ultrasound maps an eye completely. The animal doctor then makes images with an ultrasound device. This is done with the help of sound waves. Eyes can be well visualized with this technique. The ultrasound provides information about the space behind the eye, the lens, the retina, and certain abnormalities, such as microphthalmia. This examination can often be done while conscious.
If it turns out that the eyeballs are indeed too small, other parts of the eye will be examined. In this way, it can be checked whether there are more deviations. With eye tests, the vet checks whether there is any
Microphthalmia in dogs cannot be cured. In the worst case, amputation of the eye follows. This happens when an eyeball causes permanent irritation.
Owners of these animals can help their animals by introducing established habits. This is only necessary if the dog is very visually impaired to blind. Keep the environment stable for the dog so he doesn’t have to get used to a new layout. This makes it easy to move around a house. It is advisable to choose a fixed route for the exhaust. The dog remembers this, so that he knows, for example, when a threshold is approaching.
Certain dog breeds are more likely to develop an eyeball that is too small. Breeds in which this eye defect is fairly common are the Akita, the American Foxhound, the Australian Kelpie, the Australian Shepherd, the Beagle, the Bedlington Terrier, the Borzoi, the Cavalier King Charles Cocker Spaniel, the Collie, the Dachshund, the Dalmatian, the Doberman pinscher, Great Dane, Labrador Retriever, Miniature Poodle, Miniature Schnauzer, Norwegian Dunkerhund, Old English Sheepdog, Pekingese, Poodle, Portuguese Water Dog, Rottweiler, Scottish Sheepdog, Saint Bernard, Sealyham Terrier, the sheltie, the Shetland sheepdog, the Tibetan terrier, the toy poodle, and the west highland white terrier.
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Breeders should refrain from breeding microphthalmia in dogs. There is a good chance that animals will pass this eye defect on to their offspring. If a puppy is born with this condition, littermates should also be examined. It is best to stop breeding with relatives of this puppy (mother, father, brothers, and sisters) to reduce the chance that cubs will be born again with this serious condition. Deliberately breeding dogs with small eyes, a small eye cleft, or an eyeball that is too small increases the chance of developing microphthalmia.
Combination with other deviation
An eyeball that is too small often occurs at the same time as other developmental disorders. These include membrane pupillary persistent (MMP) and cataracts.
With MMP, blood vessel remnants from before birth remain in the eye. That causes inflammation. These threads can occur in different places in the eye, such as on the iris, on the front of the lens, or the inside of the eye membrane. Treatment is not necessary in most cases. In exceptional cases, surgery is required.
Puppies with microphthalmia also sometimes suffer from cataracts: a clouding of the lens in the eye. This can be recognized by the grey-white pupil in the eye. It is of little benefit to operating on a puppy for cataracts if the animal has an eyeball that is too small. Often the animal is already blind. If a dog still has some vision, the vet can decide on a surgical procedure to fix the cataract.