Sunshine and loss of vision – vitreous & retina


We were fortunate that we caught Sunshine’s vitreous degeneration before she was a year old. I noticed that she seemed to be having a problem getting around. We only had her for about 6 months before I noticed and she was about 10 months old at the time. Her retina in her left eye completely dropped off.

When I first noticed the problem, I took her to our regular vet and my vet was not available so another vet looked at her and declared her just fine. She was about 6 months at the time. Then I took her to an vet ophthalmologist who used to see my poodle while she was alive – I was not convinced that this was fine. He suggested it was worth a shot to have the retina reattached but knowing that her eyesight would still diminish over time and completely go in about 5 years. We took the chance with surgery. Had to travel to Chesapeake VA to his buddy who did retina re-attachments. She has vitreous degeneration which made her eyeball less rigid to have the retina attach.

The first surgery (yes – the problem comes in pairs) was pretty devastating to us – lasted about 8 hours but the doc got it back on. Our Sunshine was a real trooper and like many people have said, it was harder on us than her. She was in pain for a couple of days but recovered quickly.

The surgery on her second eye was in about 2 more years. Much less dramatic than the first eye, shorter so the eye did not look that bad and recovery was pretty quick with this one. Traveled to Chesapeake again but we were able to leave the next day with the second surgery.

She then developed cataracts in the first eye after about 3 years followed by glaucoma and then all of a sudden, she was spared and her pressure started dropping significantly. We now call this her little eye as it is shrinking.

She started cataracts in her second eye again about 3 years after surgery. Just a note – the eye fluid is replaced by silicone for the retina surgery. I am not sure if that is because of the vitreous degeneration or if that is done for all retina re-attachments. Anyway, that is a key reason for the cataracts. ( we could have cataract surgery, but she will be still going blind because of the vitreous problem)

We are now struggling with glaucoma that comes and goes. Luckily Sunshine’s vet ophthalmologist is close so we take in her in about once a week to have her eye pressure checked. We’ve been having complications with that and meds as of late.

Sunshine is part bichon and I think shih tzu. She is highly adaptable and has learned to get around with very limited eyesight. She is nearly blind now. We keep her hair on her face long as it sticks out and she can feel more with that. She even learns very quickly when we move furniture around. She goes up and down steps on her own and we have installed motion detector chimes at the base and at the top so she knows the beginning and end of the steps. We also have 3 other small rescue dogs so she can always follow one of the other girls around. She is the alpha dog so that sometimes is a problem if one of the other girls bumps her. But she can hold her own with them. Bumping her seems to be the only issue when she gets scared.

2 thoughts on “Sunshine and loss of vision – vitreous & retina

  1. You are so lucky to have discovered this early. My husband said when Jazper was about one, he didn’t think he could see very well. Our regular vet thought he seemed fine.
    It wasn’t until he became completely blind that w found he had abnormal vitreous and detached retinas. We had the surgery, but he really only seems to see light.
    Pretty happy guy. We are giving him drops for glaucoma but so far his pressure is good. Currently dealing with some inflammation behind one cornea.

    1. Almost 3 years later and we are still amazed about how well Sunshine gets around. It sounds like you are not discouraged and that is great. These furry members of the family are very adaptive especially if you take the time to train. Sunshine stops immediately when I say “stop”, knows up and down for stairs, etc. Her doc thinks that at this point she may have some very limited light/dark perception but that is about all. When we walk her during seasons when the sun is down and shadows are very dark, it seems that she is reluctant to walk across shadow areas and we are thinking she thinks it’s a hole of some sort.

      Her glaucoma also has diminished over time. She had been getting diluted latanaprost which she now gets only 3 times per week. You should also be on top of things with blood pressure with the glaucoma. They often go hand in hand and higher blood pressure will affect higher glaucoma.

      Sunshine was also getting another eye drop that was an nsaid for a long time, called xibrom. It really helped with keeping the inflammation down and holding her light perception for a very long time. Even that light perception was enough to help her transition smoothly to more blindness. But eventually when she started getting glaucoma, we had to take her off the xibrom. She actually looked very cute when she looked right into my face trying to look at me while she had light perception.

      Sunshine is now 11 and is loving life.

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