Entropion is a genetic condition in which a portion of the eyelid is inverted or folded inward. This can cause an eyelash or hair to irritate and scratch the surface of the eye, leading to corneal ulceration or perforation. It can also cause dark-colored scar tissue to build up over the wound (pigmentary keratitis) which may lead to visual changes.
Ectropion is a condition which describes the margin of the eyelid rolling outward, resulting in exposure of the palpebral conjunctiva (the portion of tissue that lines the inner lids). This may lead to corneal disease. It occurs mostly in dogs, particially sporting breeds such as spaniels and in any breed with loose facial skin.
Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis sicca or KCS) develops when insufficient tears are produced from the tear glands. Tears keep the surface of the eye moist, help to flush away surface debris (dust etc), provide lubrication to aid blinking, and have antibacterial properties to fight infections. Reduced tear production may affect all of these functions. Over a period of time, affected eyes may become blind due to scarring and pigmentation of the cornea.
PRA Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a condition that can lead to blindness. The cells of the retina receive light from the external environment and transmit the information to the brain where it is interpreted to become vision. PRA causes cells in the retina at the back of the eye to degenerate and die prematurely. Signs usually appear at around 3 years of age in affected dogs. At first, the dog will have night blindness, and this will progress slowly into complete blindness. These dogs are born with normal sight. It is a condition that has only recently been found to affect a Clumber Spaniel.
SARDS Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome is a condition that can affect any dog and the median age of diagnosis is 8.5 years. It affects bitches more than dogs and there is no known cause of the condition. The cells of the rods and cones of the retina suddenly undergo cell death (apoptosis). Blindness is considered permanent and dogs usually adjust quickly to visual loss.
If your dog has recurrent problems with their eyes or has a sticky discharge that does not seem to go away your vet should be consulted as there may be a problem with tear production.Lack of tears leads to dry eyes which are sore and often become infected or damaged. If this condition is recognised and treated early on it may be possible to control the condition and prevent permanent damage to the eyes.
Some Clumbers need their eyes wiped daily and sometimes some lotion to lubricate them. The most important thing if they have an eye problem is to have a specialist to diagnose the contition and to overlook their care if necessary. As an owner, you can do a daily 'mini-check' where you clean the eyes and check nothing has changed, such as discharge colour, adversion to light or being unhappy with the area being touched. It may be they have scratched their eye or developed an infection.
It is important to remember that Clumber Spaniels take a couple of years for their heads to develop fully. It may be that your Clumber Spaniel is diagnosed with a Entropion at a very young age and surgery may be offered. Before considering surgery, please contacy your breeder to discuss their views and find out about other dogs in your puppies lines and if they required surgery or not. It is also a good idea to see a Clumber Spaniel eye specialist - a veterinary opthalmologist that regually sees Clumber Spaniels. Sometimes, with regular cleaning of the eyes and the administration of ointment daily, if there is no damage to the eye, surgery can be avoided under the guidance of a specialist.