An Older Chow’s Blindness may be Reversible with Eyelid Surgery

Question:

I have a Chow and he is 10yrs old. Lately I have noticed that he runs into things. There’s a thin film on his eyes that wasn’t there before. I hate seeing him not being able to see. I was considering surgery but was told that surgery on a dog his age wouldn’t do any good and possibly make him blind. I would like to fix the problem if it’s possible.

 

Dr. Nichol:

Your older Chow is a special friend; it must be hard to see him handicapped by blindness. As difficult as this is, try to avoid making decisions that are fear based.

 

Many Chow Chows come genetically preprogrammed for eye disease because of defective eyelids. A tendency for their lids to roll in, called entropion, causes the eyelashes to constantly rub the outer surfaces (corneas) of the eyes. Just imagine years of having a few dozen eyelash hairs stuck in each eye and you’ll get a sense of how miserable these dogs are all the time.

 

Over the years your dog’s eyes have become seriously irritated. As a result his corneas have developed a dark brown pigment. It’s finally gotten thick enough for his eyesight to dim to the point of blindness. There is simply not enough light getting into his eyes to allow him to have any sight at all. It’s like a window shade has been pulled down.

 

A ten-year-old dog is not too old to have his vision corrected. To be sure that your boy’s eyes have adequate moisture, have your veterinarian check his tear production with a Schirmer Tear Test. Corrective eyelid surgery and artificial tears can return enough of your Chow’s sight to give him back a full life. Just be careful before letting him get back behind the wheel.