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Long-term outcome of sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome in dogs

Jane A. Stuckey DVM1, Jacqueline W. Pearce DVM, MS, DACVO2, Elizabeth A. Giuliano DVM, MS, DACVO3, Leah A. Cohn DVM, PhD, DACVIM4, Ellison Bentley DVM, DACVO5, Amy J. Rankin DVM, MS, DACVO6, Margi A. Gilmour DVM, DACVO7, Christine C. Lim DVM, DACVO8, Rachel A. Allbaugh DVM, MS, DACVO9, Cecil P. Moore DVM, MS, DACVO10, and Richard W. Madsen PhD11
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  • 1 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.
  • | 2 Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211.
  • | 3 Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211.
  • | 4 Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211.
  • | 5 Department of Surgical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706.
  • | 6 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.
  • | 7 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.
  • | 8 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN 55108.
  • | 9 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.
  • | 10 Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211.
  • | 11 Department of Biostatistics, School of Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211.

Abstract

Objective—To investigate long-term outcomes and owner-perceived quality of life associated with sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDS) in dogs.

Design—Survey study.

Animals—100 dogs with SARDS examined at 5 academic veterinary institutions from 2005 to 2010.

Procedures—The diagnosis was based on documented acute vision loss, normal results of ophthalmic examinations, and evaluation of extinguished bright-flash electroretinograms. Primary owners of affected dogs completed a questionnaire addressing outcome measures including vision, systemic signs, and perceived quality of life for their dogs.

Results—Age at diagnosis was significantly correlated with positive outcome measures; dogs in which SARDS was diagnosed at a younger age were more likely to have alleged partial vision and higher owner-perceived quality of life. Polyphagia was the only associated systemic sign found to increase in severity over time. Medical treatment was attempted in 22% of dogs; visual improvement was not detected in any. Thirty-seven percent of respondents reported an improved relationship with their dog after diagnosis, and 95% indicated they would discourage euthanasia of dogs with SARDS.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Blindness and concurrent systemic signs associated with SARDS appeared to persist indefinitely, but only polyphagia increased in severity over time. Most owners believed their pets had good quality of life and would discourage euthanasia of dogs with SARDS.

Abstract

Objective—To investigate long-term outcomes and owner-perceived quality of life associated with sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDS) in dogs.

Design—Survey study.

Animals—100 dogs with SARDS examined at 5 academic veterinary institutions from 2005 to 2010.

Procedures—The diagnosis was based on documented acute vision loss, normal results of ophthalmic examinations, and evaluation of extinguished bright-flash electroretinograms. Primary owners of affected dogs completed a questionnaire addressing outcome measures including vision, systemic signs, and perceived quality of life for their dogs.

Results—Age at diagnosis was significantly correlated with positive outcome measures; dogs in which SARDS was diagnosed at a younger age were more likely to have alleged partial vision and higher owner-perceived quality of life. Polyphagia was the only associated systemic sign found to increase in severity over time. Medical treatment was attempted in 22% of dogs; visual improvement was not detected in any. Thirty-seven percent of respondents reported an improved relationship with their dog after diagnosis, and 95% indicated they would discourage euthanasia of dogs with SARDS.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Blindness and concurrent systemic signs associated with SARDS appeared to persist indefinitely, but only polyphagia increased in severity over time. Most owners believed their pets had good quality of life and would discourage euthanasia of dogs with SARDS.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Allbaugh's present address is Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.

Supported in part by a research grant from University of Missouri Phi Zeta.

Presented in abstract form at the 42nd Annual American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology Conference, Hilton Head, SC, October 2011.

Address correspondence to Dr. Pearce (pearcej@missouri.edu).