Poodle Eye Problems
The bad news is that there are more than 20 eye diseases that poodles can inherit. The good news is that there is a DNA test for one of them, the progressive rod-cone degeneration (prcd) form of progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Breeders of Toy and Miniature Poodles can test their dogs before breeding and make informed decisions about which dogs to breed in order to avoid producing puppies with PRA.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
The cluster of diseases known as progressive retinal atrophy, in which the retina gradually deteriorates, causes blindness in all affected dogs. Each parent must be a carrier or be affected in order to produce an affected dog, but if only one parent is a carrier, some of the puppies will be carriers.
PRA typically first shows up as night blindness when the poodle is three to five years old. His pupils will stay dilated (in an effort to get enough light in to see), and the eyes will shine. The dog then will gradually become completely blind. PRA can be diagnosed with an ophthalmologic examination.
Standard Poodles are not exempt from PRA. Though the eye disease is less prevalent in standards, and a genetic test has not been developed for it, it does occur in that variety.
If your poodle has PRA, keep lights on for him or use night-lights to help with the night blindness. After his vision is gone, take care not to change the layout of furniture or leave obstacles in his path. Thanks to the amazing adaptability of dogs, if you keep his environment consistent and use toys with bells or squeakers, you may notice little change in your poodle's demeanor, even after he has lost his sight.
Cataracts cause the lens of the eyes to cloud over, blocking light to the retina and affecting the vision. Severe cases lead to blindness. Cataracts that are inherited are called juvenile cataracts. Poodles are among the breeds that pass on this disease.
If you see signs of vision impairment in your poodle (bumping into things, hesitancy to jump onto or off of furniture) and/or the characteristic bluish-white cloudiness over the eye, take him to see your veterinarian. If your poodle's cataracts are inherited, they might be able to be removed surgically. A cataract can also occur secondary to another condition (like diabetes), so it is also important to catch them early and address any other related conditions.
Other Eye Diseases
In addition to PRA and juvenile cataracts, there are some 20 other eye diseases that poodles can inherit. Dogs with inherited eye problems should not be bred. Responsible breeders have the eyes of the dogs they breed screened each and every year and register the results with the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF). If your poodle develops an inherited eye problem, be sure to inform your breeder.