Strange Color In Blind Dog's Eyes

by Christine Brean
(Gardena, CA)

Reader Question: What Dog Eye Disease Is This Jack Russell Suffering From?

JackRussellRescue Society gave me a JR to foster. He is blind but can see shadows. When light hits his eyes they look like beautiful clear green marbles. The group cannot afford an ophthalmologist so they will look for a forever-home willing to adopt a blind dog. Can anyone give me a hint as to what he may have? He was a sire in a puppy mill and one of the rescue puppies he sired is deaf. The group now fears that if the blindness is genetic, this poor puppy may become deaf and blind, and they must let the adopter know the possibility of this.

Christine Brean

Vet's Response To Reader's Inquiry On Jack Russell's Eye Disease

Hi Christine,

Determining what is wrong with your Jack Russell’s eyes may not require a trip to the ophthalmologist. A “regular” veterinarian could give you some good information based on an eye examination as part of a physical exam.

What you are seeing might be the reflection of light off of the dog’s tapetum lucidum, a structure that lines part of the back of the eye. Many animals have a reflective tapetum (it’s why their eyes “shine” at night when illuminated by a car’s headlights), but your dog’s may be more prominent than most if his pupils are widely dilated in an attempt to compensate for his blindness.

Another possibility is cataracts. They typically make a dog’s lenses a milky, blueish-white color. If your dog has cataracts, it would be especially important to have him checked out by a veterinarian as diabetes is a common cause for cataracts in dogs and that underlying condition would need to be treated to avoid its potentially devastating effects.

Corneal disease is also possible. The cornea is the normally clear tissue that makes up the front of the eye.


Jennifer Coates, DVM

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