Blindness cured with a shot is now a reality for pet owners whose dogs have suddenly gone blind due to a disease called SARDS. Within the last 60 days, two blind dogs can now see! SARDS stands for an eye disease called sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome. The SARDS research team led by Iowa State University veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr. Sinisa Grozdanic, DVM., in the College of Veterinary Medicine is responsible.
This is the first time that blindness in dogs caused by SARDS has been reversed successfully and all with just a few injections performed for a nominal fee. The treatment restored sight to two dogs that were treated this April, 2010. The therapy consists of injecting a substance called immunoglobulin (IVIg), which is a blood product from people that contains antibodies. This immunoglobulin has also been used to treat various immune disorders, inflammatory diseases and autoimmune problems in people. SARDS was first detected about 20 years ago and blinds nearly 4,000 dogs each year in the US. The dogs have a sudden loss of vision with no apparent cause or warning signs. The affected dogs eyes look normal, but their retinas have no electrical activity, which is how the diagnosis is made.
The disease in dogs has similarities to a retinal disorder that affects humans called immune mediated retinopathy, which also offered no treatment until about 10 years ago. This therapy has restored vision for two dogs afflicted with SARDS, although dogs with kidney failure and/or heart disease are not good candidates as they can not tolerate the IVIg injections. Dog with advanced degeneration of the retina are also not able to be treated.
It is important to understand that as soon as a dog get SARDS, his or her retina begins to degenerate very quickly, therefore dog owners interested in this SARDS therapy ideally need to contact Iowa State ASAP. Dogs who have been diagnosed with SARDS for 2 months or more generally will not be able to receive the IVIg because their retinal degeneration is too advanced. The sooner a dog diagnosed with SARDS is treated, the better his or her chances are for this therapy to work and restore vision. The condition of the retina in dogs with SARDS is determined by an optical coherence tomography scan. Iowa State University’s Veterinary Medicine Hospital is the only veterinary facility in the US currently using this advanced diagnostic technology.
The cost is quite reasonable all things considered. Diagnosis is $700.00 dollars. If the dog is deemed to be a good candidate for treatment, hospitalization and intensive care fees cost approximately$1,200.00 dollars. The immunoglobulin runs between $35-40 per pound of the dog’s body weight. The one factor still to be determined is just how long the treatment lasts. At this point Grozdanic and his team are not sure and believe it could last anywhere from a few months to several years. Pet owners with dogs showing any any signs of vision loss should be sure to see a veterinary eye specialist technically referred to an ophthalmologist ASAP. If SARDS is suspected and/or diagnosed in your dog, call Iowa State immediately so your dog has the very best chance of having his eye sight and vision restored.