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We just found out last week that my 5 year old, 120lb. female Lab Mya (pictured as my avatar) has Progressive Retinal Atrophy. When we initially took her to the Ophthamalogist they said it was most likely cataracts and could be fixed. We set up an appointment for Feb 3rd to have her lenses removed and were going to pay extra to have new lenses put in either (some people say we love our dogs too much to be spending nearly $5,000 on one procedure, but it would have been worth it)

During the preliminary testing prior to the actual surgery is when they saw she not ONLY had cataracts but Progressive Retinal Atrophy and that she can only see 15% light at this point and it will dwindle even more and would be pointless to spend the money on the surgery because it was a hereditary disease that affects dogs between ages 4 and 6 and will always make them completely blind even with getting cataract surgery because nothing can fix PRA..

It is getting really hard with her at this point, running into walls, can't find her way up from downstairs or back inside the front door.... She is trained to stay in the yard and in January the town hadn't plowed our circle yet and she couldn't tell her yard ended and she wandered off for nearly 3 hours (scared me so much I was hyperventillating I was so worried, that's my baby)

I was wondering if any one new anything more about this disease, as in your dogs or a dog you know has had this and what their quality of life is and what we can do to help my baby Mya more....or if there is ANYTHING that has made any other dogs with PRA even remotely stop the expediated progression of the disease?
 

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Our girl Hanna is completely blind at 7 1/2 from PRA. She was pretty much already blind before we even had a clue, if that tells you how well she acclimated. I think the most difficult part of her diagnosis were my feelings about it. It was really hard for me to not feel sorry for her...I cried a lot that first week or two. Hanna got a chunky little butt from all the extra treats... And then I accepted it. She accepted it long before I did.

www.blinddogs.com is a good site. Our vet did send us to the veterinary opthamalogist just to confirm the diagnosis and that vet sent us home with a bunch of reading material. Since she was pretty much already blind, we kinda just kept doing what we were doing. I try not to move things around or leave stuff in Hanna's path without letting her know something knew is there. Even if I forget, she usually can tell something is there...we joke that she has some kind of radar, which we've dubbed "Hanar"...seriously, if I asked you to pick out blind dog in our pack, you'd have a hard time telling. She goes on walkies with the other dogs...runs through the yard...wanders through the wooded area at the back of the yard. They really rely on their ears and nose so much more than their eyes.

Please, do not let your blind dog off leash in an unfenced area...especially unattended. That's very irresponsible!
 

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Yeah, Mya has gained a lot of weight between having an autoimmune skin disease and being on steroids for that and the gradual blindness simultaneously.

We started noticing a difference last may when we were playing ball with her it was harder for her to see the ball unless it landed and made a noise, otherwise she would just stare into the air looking for it but would not find it.

I do'nt know if she is adjusting well at this point...before we knew she was blind my parents got a new front door that opens the other way...she got used to it fast but then i believe the disease started quickening and now she can't find her way in...nothing else has changed yet when she goes out side she goes really really slow and soft steps everywhere. The only place she knows for sure other then where the treats are located :D!! is my old room where my twin bed is still in there that she grew up sleeping on with me...she will either go to the treats or my old room...

When i come over, she starts crying outloud..and immediately goes up stairs to the bedroom after i have stopped petting her and looks back at me...its almost like she wants me to go with her and lay on the bed with her to comfort her like i used too.

it is sad, but obviously there is nothing i can do about it, i have to get used to it.
 

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Our labrador Rosie was bought in the UK from a very reputable breeder for £400 in 2000. Pedigree as long as your arm, parents hip and eye tested, so we should have not had this problem.

At six years of age we noticed small things like bumping into your foot when we were sitting down, as it happens our vet is also an opthalomogist, so next time we visited we mentioned it, an examination revealed PRA, and we were told she would eventually go blind, maybe in two years. This devastated us, having had a labrador previously for nearly 14 years with no problems at all, and dogs all our lives. We informed the breeder immediately but they did not seem that interested!!

Over the last three years (three years in April) her sight has deteriorated very very slowly, until about six months ago she developed a cataract on one eye, then one on the other, in the last three weeks she has gone totally blind. We are absolutely sure that the cataract has taken her sight not the PRA. Hence the reason for looking at this forum.

Our vet assures us that even if the cataract was removed,the sight behind it would go and it is no use putting ourselves to the expense, or Rosie through the stress of an op to remove the cataract/s. We did hear on our radio last week that there is a new op not as invasive as the old op, but very expensive, however, our vet still says no point, even though we think she still has sight there, and it had stayed very stable for some time.

So now she is very disorientated, she is just 9, and is fit and well. She has to negotiate two steps to go into the garden, and even though she has lived in the same house all her life and the same garden, she is struggling at the moment, our vet says three to six months to get fully adjusted and that we worry more than they do, she has banged her head several times on the wall, furniture etc, so everything with a corner has bubble wrap on it, and her bed a good pad behind it to stop her hitting the wall.

She seems more disorientated at night for some reason. We live near a beach which she also has gone on all her life, and she is doing well, and her regular walk to the beach she is walking in front of us, but we have to watch out for twigs from branches in gardens, and keep her from falling off the kerb or walking into the wall. Our instant feeling was why should we put her through all this, and we would never keep a dog alive for our own sake, however, we are assured that they do cope very well, and we are doing everything we can to help her to do this.

There is a very good little book we bought off the net called Living with blind dogs, we have found this very helpful and reassuring. From Amazon in UK.

It has helped reading your posts, as we know just how you feel and yes it makes you cry when they bump into things.

We now have a little ball with a bell in it, and we roll it down the hallway and it hits the toilet door, she knows roughly where it is and she follows it, we then say, nearly, nearly, and yes when she is by it, and then she brings it back to ROUGHLY where we are, her direction as yet is not perfect. We do not know if she is stressed or not, sometimes she seems really sad, other times lies on her back for tickle tummy and smiles a lot, we hope this rather long post has helped someone who may be going through the same trauma as us and Rosie. Best wishes, Val
 
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