If you’ve ever spoken to us or bumped into us in the dog community, you may already know about our beloved Tuckerman’s battle with pannus. It was devastating to think of confining him indoors, so we set out to find a way to protect his eyes. And that’s how Rex Specs was born. After creating a product that tremendously improved Tuck’s quality of life, it has become our mission to assist other dog owners in preventing pannus from affecting their loyal companions.
What is Pannus?
First and foremost, let’s understand what pannus is. Pannus, also known as Chronic Superficial Keratitis, is an immune system disorder caused by ultraviolet (UV) light damage to the cornea’s side. This triggers the body to send small blood vessels into the layers of the cornea in an attempt to repair the damage. However, the immune system sees these blood vessels as a potential threat and aims to destroy the corneal tissues. Without treatment, scar tissue develops, leading to severe visual impairment and even blindness.
Pannus commonly affects German Shepherds, Border Collies, Huskies, Australian Shepherds, Long-Haired Dachshunds, and Greyhounds. However, it can be found in any breed, especially those that live and exercise at higher elevations.
To identify pannus, Dr. Steve Roberts, a veterinary ophthalmologist, advises looking for cloudiness and tiny blood vessels on the lateral edge of the cornea. These early symptoms are typically visible at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions on the dog’s eye.
Is There a Cure for Pannus?
Regrettably, there is no cure for pannus. However, the good news is that it is a treatable disease. Vets commonly prescribe eye drops, such as dexamethasone, prednisolone, or cyclosporine, to manage the condition. Early detection is crucial to minimize the risk of scar tissue and severe impairment.
Reducing your dog’s exposure to UV rays is another vital aspect of pannus treatment. Dr. Roberts has observed a direct correlation between pannus severity and the amount of UV light dogs are exposed to, particularly during the summer months. In Colorado, where elevations exceed 5,000 feet, dogs that frequently venture to elevations between 7,000 and 10,000 feet face greater challenges in managing the condition. Relocating to lower elevations has proven effective for some individuals, making pannus easier to control at altitudes under 1,000 feet.
However, not all of us can imagine leaving the mountains we adore. Therefore, an alternative recommended by Dr. Roberts and other veterinarians is to provide your dog with a pair of Rex Specs. While Rex Specs are not a substitute for eye drops, their lenses are rated UV400, offering 99-100% UVA/UVB protection to prevent the condition from worsening.
How Can I Protect My Dog From Pannus?
Rex Specs have been a game-changer in managing Tuck’s pannus. While the goggles don’t replace eye drops, they have proven highly effective in preventing the condition from progressing. The UV400-rated lenses shield him from harmful rays. We are on a mission to raise awareness about pannus and its signs, ensuring that every dog owner has the knowledge to manage the condition effectively. We invite you to join us in spreading the word so that we and our furry friends can fully enjoy life together.
Pannus isn’t the only eye condition that warrants eye protection. Some dogs can experience sunburn or increased sensitivity to the sun, especially during the summer. With Rex Specs, you can rest assured knowing that their lenses are UV protected. For more insight, you can read an interview with two ambassadors who frequently hike with their dogs in our blog post.
If you want to learn more about pannus, here are a few starting points:
- Animal Eye Center pannus signs and treatment
- Wikipedia’s pannus info
- VCA’s pannus info