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Lens Luxation in Dogs

The lens in a dog’s eye, much like a camera lens, focuses the image coming through the pupil onto the retina. Normally, the lens is held in position by tiny fibers called zonules. However, if these zonules weaken, or even tear, the lens will become dislocated, a process called lens luxation.

Lens luxation can be caused by other diseases or conditions, such as trauma, inflammation, or even glaucoma. This is termed “Secondary Lens Luxation”. However, it can also occur with no other conditions present in some breeds of dogs. This is an inherited condition. Dogs that are most susceptible to lens luxation due to heredity include the following:

  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Border Collie
  • Brittany
  • Fox Terrier
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Miniature Bull Terrier
  • Norwegian Elkhound
  • Parson Russell Terrier
  • Russell Terrier
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Shar-Pei
  • Welsh Terrier
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Whippet

Inherited lens luxation is primarily associated with adult dogs, between 4 and 9 years old. However it can also occur in late life. Secondary lens luxation, that is dislocation due to trauma or inflammation, can occur at any age and with any breed of dog.

Lens luxation is broken down into luxation (the full separation of the lens from the zonules) and subluxation (a partial separation, with the lens remaining basically in place). Luxation is further broken down into anterior luxation (where the lens falls forward into or towards the anterior chamber) and posterior luxation (where the lens falls backward into the vitreous chamber).

Symptoms of Lens Luxation

If your dog is suffering from lens luxation, she may be exhibiting one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Acute pain in and reddened eye, with possible corneal swelling
  • Clouding of the cornea (if the lens comes in contact with it)
  • A trembling iris or lens
  • Abnormal position of the clear part of the lens
  • Missing lens when viewing through the pupil

Note that many of the symptoms may not be apparent without using specialized ocular equipment, so a visit to a veterinary ophthalmologist or veterinarian is recommended if you suspect your dog may be suffering from a dislocated lens.

Left untreated, even more damage can occur to your dog’s vision. If the lens fell forward, it could block the draining path for the anterior chamber, resulting in glaucoma. If the lens fell backward, it could result in retinal tears or retinal detachment. Get your dog to a vet as quickly as you can if you suspect lens luxation has occurred.

Treatment

If your dog still has partial vision, removal of the lens is the most often used treatment. Your dog will still be able to see without the lens. She will, however, be far sighted. If the luxated lens was posterior, treatments to minimize the size of the pupil may be suggested as a method to delay the need for surgery.

If the dog’s eye is irreversibly blind, then either removal of the internal material from the eye or complete removal of the eye will be recommended. In some cases, such as cancer, the removal of the eye and replacement with an artificial eye would be the most beneficial.

Conclusion

Left untreated, lens luxation can result in glaucoma or blindness in your dog. If your dog experiences this condition, do not breed the dog, as it can pass the problem onto future generations.

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