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Lenticular sclerosis
I've always known that Lucy didn't really have "ETS" as some would coin it, but she just plain couldn't see.  She's far too athletic and fit to not be physically capable of the act of jumping, but she does tend to make poor decisions about take off spots and will sometimes stutter step on approach to jumps.  She was tested once by a canine opthalmologist before we left the Bay Area, she had a mild refractive error of less than .1 in each eye.  I could tell that she's gotten worse over the past year, and also knew her problem was completely vision related.  Being a numbers and data driven type, however, I felt that I needed another exam to confirm what I already knew, that Lucy basically needs glasses.  We saw Dr. Penny Cooley, who is located right here in Olympia.  She is of the opinion that any refractive error is significant for performance dogs.  Lucy had the same exams that I have every year, I was pretty impressed that she put up with all of the tests, they aren't easy to tolerate.  Lucy's refractive error was worse, but more notably Dr. Cooley said that she had advanced lenticular sclerosis.  Lenticular sclerosis is the normal aging of the canine eye, it causes that bluish appearance in older dogs.  While most vets claim that lenticular sclerosis has no affect on vision for pet dogs, Dr. Cooley said that it slows down the focusing ability of the dog, and in combination with the refractive error she said Lucy probably did not have much in the way of binocular vision, "particularly for a visually demanding activity like agility".  Lucy's lenticular sclerosis is that of a 10 year old dog, I had noticed this as well, but had always been told that lenticular sclerosis did not affect visual acuity for the dogs.  Dr. Cooley even picked the obstacles that were of greatest difficulty for her--the jumps and the table.  I can't say that I felt particularly validated by Lucy's exam today, I already knew that I have to proceed with caution as we continue to compete, and had already decided to switch her into Performance.  Dr.  Cooley didn't recommend contact lenses, I wouldn't want to try them either, I helped a friend put lenses on her dog and the thing kept flying out of the dog's eye.  It is interesting that the domestic dog is the only mammal to have naturally occurring myopia like humans, and that there are heritable components to the myopia--labs have the highest known rate of all breeds.  So our dogs need glasses.  We tried some glasses on, I'm sure the AKC wouldn't mind her wearing these, although they do look like coke bottles and she would be subject to bullying by the other dogs at the trials:


These look a little more stylish:


Now we're talking, these were clearly her favorite, I bet we could get these approved by the AKC field rep:


Of course visual acuity has nothing to do with her absence of a start line stay and naughty contact performance, but given that we'll have a limited amount of time left in her competitive career I'm ready to bail on criteria for her, we're just out for a good time.

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Wow, I learned a TON from this post (where do I send the check?) I had no idea that other mammals don't tend to have vision issues. I just suspected that eyes were eyes and they could certainly lose their ability as they age, AND that a dog could be born with a propensity for vision issues. Hmmmm so interesting.

So, like monkeys? Monkeys don't have vision issues? wow.

And, please tell Lucy that I personally think girls in glasses are super hot. So she will get a YES vote from me. AKC has to see how friggin cute she looks.

Primates do get myopia, but since research can no longer be conducted on primates the opthalmologists are looking for suitable animals to use for things like LASEK surgery advancements.

Great photos! Lucy looks great in the Foster Grants -- and a bit too much like a librarian in the first photo. Librarians would always follow the rules and stay on start lines.

That second picture! Oh, my. What a dog (and I meant that in the best possible way). :-)

Those glasses look better on her than they do on me, but of course she is a lot cuter.

I notice Lucy smiles only while wearing the shades, yeah, she needs a chopper to go with them;)

Very interesting. Dr. Cooley sounds like she is much more understanding of performance dog vision. I wonder if we can connect them Dr. Cooley with Gina Day? It would be nice to have someone local who could do the testing that Gina is doing, someone who would be willing to do it and see the importance of it for our agility dogs.

Maybe once they decide which measurements are the most pertinent, I don't think they've tested enough "unaffected" dogs.

Thanks for sharing all of this detail, Kerilyn!

How did Dr Cooley measure Lucy's depth perception?

She only checked for retinal disparity and convergence.

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