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Latest research finds that dogs can be afflicted with night blindness too

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Posted on October 1, 2015: Congenital stationary night blindness, or CSNB, has been commonly found in humans. However, a recent study conducted by a team of researchers including an Indian-origin scientist, have found out that even dogs can get affected with a form of night blindness.

People suffering with CSNB, have normal vision during the day but find it extremely difficult or even impossible to have a clear sight and tell apart objects in low light. Such conditions in an individual and dogs as well, are found to be present from the time of birth. Since there has been a new discovery of a type of CSNB found in dogs, there has been a consequent hunt for a genetic mutation that is responsible for this condition. The dysfunction can then be corrected using gene therapy in people, and also dogs, says the study.

Gautami Das, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, along with a team of Japanese scientists, have found out about a distinctive population of beagles with night blindness problems. These dogs had been bred by a Japanese pharmaceutical company which displayed various characteristics and behavior of night blindness. Gustavo Aguirre, a fellow researcher from University of Pennsylvania said, “in bright light they can walk and navigate their way around easily, but in darkness they sort of freeze.”

All the dogs affected by this showed signs that were typical characteristics of CSNB. Researchers believe a “genome-wide approach” -which is an examination of common geneticvariants in different individuals to see if any variant is associated with a trait- will narrow down their hunt.
In simple language, researchers are still trying to solve the mystery behind the trouble causing gene!

Once the researchers find the solution, they can begin the process of developing a gene therapy to treat the condition of night blindness.

Better be cautious

However, in dogs, a disorder called Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is found whose very first symptom begins with night blindness. PRA is a disorder which causes blindness in both the eyes, a disease which is probably caused due to genetic disorder. Affected dogs are often seen to be reluctant to go down the stairs, navigate through unfamiliar surroundings, wander outside by themselves, jump or roam in areas where there is darkness or dim light.

The surface of their eyes becomes cloudy, gray or even has a greenish sheen on it. As the disease progresses, the dog might start bumping into the furniture and walls and stumble over objects. Fortunately, PRA is seldom painful and most dogs learn to adjust to the slow loss of vision. This apparently, does not mean we wait and let our dogs get accustomed to the PRA and hence owners must consult with their vet to precisely investigate for any symptoms and manage this condition if early symptoms are to be found.

All is well that ends well

It is also important to understand that it is okay to have a pet with a vision impair, as long as you don’t make your pet feel bad about it. Your blind dog is going to be happy as long as his/her daily routine remains the same, and you remain the same.

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