What is SARDS?
Sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome or SARDS is a condition that causes sudden blindness due to rapid changes in the retina of a dog. It is one of the leading causes of incurable canine vision loss diagnosed by veterinary ophthalmologists.
There is no know cause of SARDS but it is the type of blindness associated with SARDS is related to abnormal function of multiple receptors within the retina of the eye. It is commonly seen in middle-aged dogs, 8–10 years old. Females have a higher instance of SARDS than males, and the condition is most common in mixed-breed dogs, though Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, Pugs, Brittany Spaniels, Bichons, Cocker Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, Beagles, and Maltese are also frequently diagnosed.
What Are the Symptoms of SARDS?
- bumping into walls or furniture
- appearing disoriented
- reluctance to go up or down stairs
- anxiety when separated from their owner
- decrease in activity level
- pupils remain dilated
Is SARDS Treatable?
Blindness caused by SARDS is unfortunately untreatable and irreversible.
How to Help Your Dog Adapt to Being Blind
Dogs can adapt to blindness fairly quickly, usually they are fully comfortable moving around after 6 to 8 weeks.
With a blind pet you want to make sure you keep all of your furniture in the same place, blind dogs have to build a memory map in their heads of their surroundings. Once they have mapped out their home they will be able to remember how the house is set up and avoid furniture and walls, try to avoid leaving grocery bags and shoes in the hallways as your dog may trip or hurt themselves on unexpected objects.
A blind dog halo is a great way to help your dog get used to their sudden blindness, the wire 'halo' attached to a front vest will knock into objects alerting your dog before they bump their heads and run into objects.
Just like a person, a dog can live full-filling, happy, active lives without their eyesight. Sudden blindness may take a bit of getting used too for both your dog and yourself but you both are able to do so! With some minor lifestyle adjustments your furry best friend will just as lovable and active as before the vision loss.