The cornea is a see-through tissue that covers the eye. Pannus, (also known as Chronic Superficial Keratitis), is inflammation of the cornea. It is not painful, but will affect your dog’s vision.
Left untreated, pannus can end in blindness.
Pannus occurs mainly in German Shepherds, but it can occur in other breeds.
Pannus is immune-mediated (the immune system fights the cornea).
It can be triggered and aggravated by other things, including:
- Ultraviolet light
- High altitude
Typically, both eyes are affected.
- First, you will notice a pink film on the eye
- As pannus progresses, the film will spread and turn brown
- Eventually, there will be vision loss
Other signs you may notice:
- Excessive tearing
- Opaque cornea
- Thickened, pink third eyelid
Diagnosis is usually based on medical history and signs.
To rule out other diseases, your veterinarian may perform the following tests:
- Biopsy of the cornea
- Corneal staining with fluorescein
- Intraocular pressure testing (IOP): checks for glaucoma
- Schirmer tear test: checks for tear deficiency
Pannus can not be completely cured, but is controllable. Treatment will stop the disease from progressing, and may reverse some of the damage.
Treatment may include:
- Cortisone: either applied on the skin or injected by your veterinarian
- Antibiotics: drugs to suppress the immune system, or to treat any secondary infections
- Surgery: in cases where the dog is blind, the top layers of the cornea can be removed
- Radiation: may be an option for advanced pannus
Pannus itself is not preventable, but you can try to prevent relapses.
Affected dogs should:
- Limit exposure to bright sunlight (special sunglasses are available to protect your dog’s eyes)
- Limit walks to early morning, evening, or shady areas
Life-long treatment is often necessary. You must follow your veterinarian’s instructions with giving medication. Following up with your veterinarian is also important because they may need to adjust the medication.
Most dogs respond well if you give the medication correctly.