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What is Collie Eye Anomaly?

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Though collies are often very healthy when it comes to the problems that affect other breeds of this size, they are prone to a genetic mutation that causes a disease known as collie eye anomaly (CEA). A mutation that causes the blood vessels in the retina to be underdeveloped, CEA typically leads to blindness and there is no way to reverse it. Keep reading to learn more about this disease, its symptoms, and how to treat it.

What Are the Causes and Symptoms?

Sometimes referred to as collie eye defect, collie eye anomaly is an inherited congenital condition. This disease affects the chromosomes which determine the development of the dog’s eyes – when they mutate, the blood vessels that supply the retina with blood become underdeveloped which leads to a number of problems that eventually lead to blindness. This mutation always occurs in both eyes and it can lead to other defects such as retinal detachment.

Related: A Short Guide to Eye Diseases in Dogs

As many as 70% to 97% of both rough collies and smooth collies in the United States and United Kingdom are affected by CEA. Border collies can also be affected, but at a much lower rate – only about 2% to 3%. This disease is also sometimes seen in related breeds such as Shetland Sheepdogs, Australian Shepherds, and other herding breeds. Unfortunately, this condition frequently fails to present with symptoms until blindness begins to set in. The only things you are likely to notice are eyeballs that appear smaller than normal, eyeballs that are sunken deep in the sockets, and a clouding on the surface of the eye. In rare cases, the structure of the eye itself may even develop a hole called a coloboma.

How is Collie Eye Anomaly Treated?

A thorough examination of the dog’s eyes is the first step in diagnosing collie eye anomaly and it is best done when the dog is a puppy. Retinal detachment, if it occurs, usually happens within the first year so early treatment is essential to either prevent it or minimize the damage. If the disease is diagnosed early, it generally doesn’t worsen unless the dog develops a coloboma. In cases where the dog develops a coloboma, close monitoring will be needed.

Related: What is Progressive Retinal Atrophy in Dogs

As far as treatment for collie eye anomaly goes, the options are limited because it is an irreversible condition. In some cases, surgery can be performed to minimize the effects of CEA in cases where a coloboma forms. Laser surgery is one option and cryosurgery is another – cryosurgery involves using extreme cold to destroy damaged cells or tissue. Surgery can also be beneficial for preventing retinal detachment or further deterioration in cases where it has already happened.

Unfortunately, collie eye anomaly is a congenital condition, so it cannot be prevented – the only way to prevent it is to avoid breeding dogs that carry the disease. There is a genetic test for CEA which makes this a possibility. If you have or are thinking about getting a collie, make sure to have him tested for this condition so you can manage it if needed.


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