Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Cat at the Vet

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a genetic disease which causes pets to lose their vision. The vision loss can occur over a period of a few months to years.

The first sign of PRA is an inability to see in low light or at night. Pets are often uneasy about going outdoors at night. They may shy away from using stairs or approaching other obstacles. Pets will then gradually lose the ability to see in daytime.

PRA is caused by a degeneration of rods and cones, the receptors of the retina which is located in back of the eye. Rods are responsible for light entering the eye and cones, for color.

Normally, by 12 weeks of age these receptors are mature. If they do not mature completely, they can begin to deteriorate when the pet is young. Researchers are not sure of the reason, but an abnormal enzyme or protein is suspected.

PRA affects many breeds of pets, even mixed breeds. If you think your pet has vision problems, have him/her checked by a veterinary opthalmologist. There is a test for PRA available.

Blindness can have several causes including high blood pressure, neurological disorders, liver disease, cataracts, glaucoma, injuries to the eye.

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