Eye Diseases

Cavaliers do not generally suffer from any serious eye problems. They can inherit juvenile cataracts, retinal dysplasia, and other eye diseases. Breeders must screen their Cavaliers with board certified veterinarian ophthalmologists and only breed Cavaliers that fall within normal limits or with CERF breeder options.

The following information is listed by the American College of Veterinary Opthamalogists as eye conditions that occur in the Cavalier in high enough percentages to be considered of concern to the breed and breeding stock should be checked for the following by a certified opthamalogist. Breeding advice is given for the various conditions. For some of the conditions they are listed as "breeders option" to use a dog diagnosed with the condition as the hereditary links are not established. Where they are listed as no, this means an affected should not be bred.

Microphthalmia with multiple ocular defects.

Inheritance - not defined.

Breeding advice - NO.

Microphthalmia is a congenital defect characterized by a small eye often associated with other ocular malformations, including defects of the cornea, anterior chamber, lens and/or retina.

Distichiasis.

Inheritance - not defined.

Breeding advice - breeder option.

Eyelashes abnormally located on the eyelid margin which may cause occular irritation. Distichiasis may occur at any time in the life of a dog. It is difficult to make a strong recommendation with regard to breeding dogs with this entity. The hereditary basis has not been established although it seem probable due to the high incidence in some breeds. Reducing the incidence is a logical goal. When diagnosed, distichiasis should be recorded; breeding discretion is advised. 


Corneal dystrophy-epithelial/stromal.

Inheritance - not defined.

Breeding advice - breeder option.

A non-inflammatory corneal opacity (white to gray) present in one of more of the corneal layers; usually inherited and bilateral. In these dogs, lesions are circular or semicircular central crystalline deposits in the anterior corneal stroma that appear between 2 and 5 years of age. It may be associated with exophthalmos and lagophthalmos common in these dogs.

Exposure keratopathy syndrome/macroblepharon.

Inheritance - not defined.

Breeding advice - breeder option.

A corneal disease involving all or part of the cornea, resulting from inadequate blinking. This results from a combination of anatomic features including shallow orbits, exophthalmos, a large eyelid opening (macroblepharon) and lagophthalmos.

Cataract.

Inheritance - not defined.

Breeding advice - NO.

A partial or complete opacity of the lens and/or its capsule. In cases where cataracts are complete and affect both eyes, blindness results. The prudent approach is to assume cataracts are hereditary except in cases known to be associated with trauma, other causes of ocular inflammation, specific metabolic diseases, persistant pupillary membrane, persistant hyaloid or nutritional deficiencies. Cataracts may involve the lens completely (diffuse) or in a localized region. In the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, onset is at an early age (less than 6 months), affecting the cortex and nucleus with rapid progression to complete cataract, resulting in blindness.

Retinal dysplasia-folds.

Inheritance - not defined.

Breeding advice - breeder option.

Linear, triangular, curved or curvillinear foci of retinal folding that may be single or multiple. Its significance to vision is unknown. There are two other forms of retinal dysplasia (geographic, detached) which are known to be inherited in other breeds and, in their most severe form, cause blindness. The genetic relationship between folds and more severe forms of retinal dysplasia is undetermined.

Retinal dysplasia-geographic, detached.

Inheritance - not defined.

Breeding advice - NO.

Abnormal development of the retina present at birth.

Retinal dysplasia - geographic: Any irregularly shaped area of abnormal retinal development containing both areas of thinning and areas of elevation representing folds and retinal disorganization.

Retinal dysplasia - detached: Severe retinal disorganization associated with separation (detachment) of the retina.

These two forms are associated with vision impairment or blindness. Retinal dysplasia is known to be inherited in many breeds. The genetic relationship between the three forms of retinal dysplasia is not known for all breeds.

 

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