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To determine the effect of optical defocus (such as what develops in spontaneous myopia and subsequent to cataract extraction) on visual acuity in dogs.


3 young adult male Beagles.


The effect of optical defocus on visual acuity was determined by sweep visual evoked potential, using a within-subjects/repeated measures design in which each dog served as its own control. Dogs were positioned so that the eye being tested was 60 cm in front of the video display, and the target was centered on the area centralis. To create ametropia relative to the video screen, a series of concave and convex spherical lenses were placed 1 cm in front of the eye, and sweep visual evoked potential acuities were obtained.


Maximal acuity was 7.0 to 9.5 cycles/degree. Defocusing by 2.0 diopters reduces Beagle grating acuity approximately 1 octave. Mimicking aphakia resulted in a marked depression of acuity to 0.7 cycles/degree or less.


Even mild degrees of ametropia have appreciable impact on the resolving power of the canine visual system.

Clinical Relevance

Spontaneous myopia is encountered in dogs and may be associated with impaired visual performance attributable to a reduction in visual acuity. Previous reports indicate the possibility of myopia in dogs to have a heritable component. On the basis of our results, refractive correction of aphakia is advisable, and refractive screening of dogs with demanding visual tasks (eg, service dogs, field-trial Labrador Retrievers) is recommended. (Am J Vet Res 1997;58:414–418)

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To assess the refractive state of eyes in various breeds of dogs to identify breeds susceptible to ametropias.

Animals—1,440 dogs representing 90 breeds.

Procedures—In each dog, 1 drop of 1% cyclopentolate or 1% tropicamide was applied to each eye, and a Canine Eye Registration Foundation examination was performed. Approximately 30 minutes after drops were administered, the refractive state of each eye was assessed via streak retinoscopy. Dogs were considered ametropic (myopic or hyperopic) when the mean refractive state (the resting focus of the eye at rest relative to visual infinity) exceeded ± 0.5 diopter (D). Anisometropia was diagnosed when the refractive error of each eye in a pair differed by > 1 D.

Results—Mean ± SD refractive state of all eyes examined was −0.05 ± 1.36 D (emmetropia). Breeds in which the mean refractive state was myopic (≤ −0.5 D) included Rottweiler, Collie, Miniature Schnauzer, and Toy Poodle. Degree of myopia increased with increasing age across all breeds. Breeds in which the mean refractive state was hyperopic (≥ +0.5 D) included Australian Shepherd, Alaskan Malamute, and Bouvier des Flandres. Astigmatism was detected in 1% (14/1,440) of adult (≥ 1 year of age) dogs; prevalence of astigmatism among German Shepherd Dogs was 3.3% (3/90). Anisometropia was detected in 6% (87/1,440) of all dogs and in 8.9% (8/90) of German Shepherd Dogs.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Refractive states of canine eyes varied widely and were influenced by breed and age. In dogs expected to have high visual function (eg, performance dogs), determination of refractive state is recommended prior to intensive training.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research