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What Causes Dog Vision Loss and Blindness?

Your dog’s vision loss doesn’t always happen overnight; the symptoms may occur slowly in many cases. Vision changes can be gradual and confused with natural changes that are expected in an aging pet.

Symptoms of Dog Blindness

Vision loss doesn’t only impact senior dogs. Any pet can experience changes in their eyesight. Blindness can impact any dog, but dogs dealing with a chronic condition like diabetes are at a much higher risk of losing sight. Here are a few signs of blindness in dogs:

Caring for a blind dog
  • Clumsiness or bumping into walls or furniture
  • Dog is reluctant or too scared to move
  • Becomes easily startled or jumpy
  • Reacts strongly to noises
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Sleeping more often and at different times than usual
  • Your dog’s eyes look different (appear cloudy)

Suddenly waking up blind can be highly stressful for your dog. They have to relearn how to do tasks that have been second nature since birth; your dog will have to figure out how to navigate without their sight and rely on their other senses. Read this article to learn more about helping your pet adapt to sudden blindness.

Early Signs of Blindness in Dogs

Blind dog halo for visually handicapped pets

Most senior pets who lose their eyesight experience change in their vision due to another underlying health condition. Most pets do not become blind overnight. Early signs of blindness in dogs are primarily behavioral and may not seem related at first. Be aware of the following changes in your senior pet:

  • Unexplained lethargy
  • Sudden aggression
  • Changes in activity, especially playing less
  • Loss of night vision
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Bumping into walls or furniture
  • Startling easily
  • Relies on other senses more often, such as sense of smell

These changes may be subtle initially, and you may even assume it’s just another sign that your dog is getting older. Always pay attention to changes in your dog’s behavior and contact your Veterinarian.

Common Cause of Blindness in Dogs

Many factors can lead to vision loss, but medical conditions are the leading cause of blindness in dogs. Here are a few of the most common health issues leading to pet vision loss:


Vision loss from diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in dogs. Diabetes is more common than you may think. 1 in 10 dogs will become diabetic in their lifetime, and 75% of diabetic dogs will eventually go blind. Most dogs with diabetes will quickly see changes in vision and formation of cataracts after becoming diabetic.

Affected dogs often lose sight within five to six months of being diagnosed. Vision loss from diabetes can occur quickly, with complete vision loss occurring within 48 hours of the first symptom.


Glaucoma is a painful condition that causes pressure to build up in one or both eyes. Although glaucoma can be treated when caught early, it will lead to blindness if untreated. 40% of dogs with glaucoma will end up blind within the first year of diagnosis.

Canine Cataracts

Cataracts are common in both humans and pets. As pets age, cataracts form a cloudy film over the eye. Typically, cataracts in dogs grow slowly and can be treated, but uncared for will lead to vision loss.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA is an inherited condition where cells in the retina deteriorate, causing blindness. Although not painful, Progressive Retinal Atrophy affects both of a dog’s eyes. PRA is a degenerative condition with no cure, although, with medication, you may be able to slow down the process.

Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS)

Although the cause of SARDS in dogs is unknown, SARDS causes retinal degeneration, which leads to irreversible blindness. Often the complete loss of vision occurs suddenly. Even though SARDS is untreatable, it is not painful, and dogs with SARDS can maintain an excellent quality of life.

Can Blindness Be Reversed in Dogs?

Most of the time, blindness is a permanent condition that cannot be reversed, such as with SARDs. If the blindness is caused by an underlying condition such as diabetes, Cushing’s Syndrome, or hypertension, the treatment of the condition can help your dog’s blindness. Corrective eye surgery may be possible in some cases, but only if the retina and nerves in the back of the eye remain healthy. For example, with a dog that suffers blindness due to cataracts, there are surgeries that can be performed to restore your dog’s eyesight by replacing the lens.

Give Your Blind Pet Back Their Confidence

Blind dog on a walk

Just because your pet has been diagnosed with vision loss, does not mean the end. With patience and the right tools blind pets can live long, happy and healthy lives!

A halo can help aid pets with vision loss to confidently navigate the space around them. The halo will bump into furniture, walls, and other obstacles before your dog does! Not only will your dog’s confidence grow as they become more comfortable in the world around them, but you’ll also gain the peace of mind that your dog can walk around freely and safely. Wearing a blind dog halo allows your dog to join in on all their favorite activities and get back to enjoying life!

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  1. […] for any pet but may be especially scary for an older dog. And, if your pet is starting to lose their eyesight, the transition will be even more challenging. You can make them more comfortable by keeping their […]

  2. […] est la détérioration progressive des cellules de la rétine qui peut entraîner cécité dans les derniers stades. Si vous remarquez des changements dans la vision ou des changements dans […]

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