And if you have a reason to believe your dog is having troubles seeing or are just curious about it, you are probably wondering whether dogs, too, can be nearsighted or farsighted.
The short answer is: yes, they can.
We’ve outlined how to spot vision problems, and what you can do to help a pooch with sight problems.
Sight in Dogs
The most common misconception about dog vision is that pooches see the world in black and white.
The fact is that dogs do see colors though not as much as we do.
Dogs also have poorer vision than us—they need to get as close as 20 ft to see an object that people can see from 60-70 ft.
People and canines have different needs and use for their sight—dogs count on it to detect motion but rely mostly on smell for orientation.
Furthermore, because dog eyes are located farther on the sides than humans’ its harder for pooches to focus on what’s straight ahead of them.
Obviously, it’s way more challenging to study animals than people, however, science has uncovered some important facts about dog vision; for example that they can suffer from the same eye conditions as humans.
However, there is a dispute on whether dogs are generally nearsighted, farsighted or have a clear vision.
Another important point is that blind dogs usually adapt quite well to their condition, so you need to pay attention to your pal’s eye health because it might take a long time to see noticeable changes.
Studies have found that, naturally, dog’s vision deteriorates with age, so you can expect that at some point your dog will require some assistance with its daily life.
This means that as your pooch gets older, you’ll have to grow more patient when issuing commands or having playtime, and you’ll need to stand closer to your pet for it to see your signals.
How to Spot Problems
Dogs can’t say when their sight is getting worse, and on top of that, they are quite good at managing life even with vision troubles.
“We see lots of patients that have pretty advanced visual dysfunction without their owners being aware of it simply because the layout of their home never changed,” says Christopher Pirie, vet ophthalmologist, as quoted by TuftsNow.
Nevertheless, sight is still an important sense, and there are telltale signs that your pal is having trouble with it.
Addressing such problems early on is important for improving your pal’s quality of life.
Note that because of the aforementioned adaptability of dogs, it might be difficult to spot sight problems, so if you have doubts, visit a vet.
While dogs do use other senses for orientation, they also rely on their eyes.
So, some of the most common symptoms of vision problems, have to do with how your dog orients itself.
Bumping into walls/objects, navigational troubles in new environments, and not reacting to movement might be signs that your pal has trouble seeing.
Playtime is also quite telling, for example, if your dog continuously fails to locate the ball/stick when playing fetch.
Dogs, Sight, and Age
Age affects how well dogs see which is to be expected.
However, as they age, pooches get more nearsighted, which might surprise those making a parallel with humans who tend to develop farsightedness when getting older.
Psychologist and dog books author Stanley Coren PhD., DSc, FRSC, was left puzzled after his ten-year-old Retriever, Dancer, began missing or misinterpreting hand signals.
At first, Coren reasoned it’s due to weakening mental abilities or arthritis, however, research revealed that nearsightedness in dogs progresses quite profoundly the older they get.
Unfortunately, corrective procedures are not as common for dogs, though there are things you can do to help your pal like opting for audible commands or using more elaborate hand gestures.
It’s important to keep in mind that other eye conditions like glaucoma and cataracts also affect dogs.
Trauma and toxic substances can also lead to suffering and permanent eye damage, so beware of those.
These conditions require treatment, else your dog will suffer from pain, dsiturbance, and overall poor quality of life.
Irritation, redness, tenderness, eye scratching, and tearing are common symptoms of eye problems.
Are there any breeds that are predisposed to nearsightedness or farsightedness?
Research suggests that there are.
Several breeds of Retrievers and Spaniels are thought to be more predisposed to farsightedness.
On the other hand, Rottweilers and German Shepherds are considered to run a higher chance of being nearsighted.
Many factors come at play here and breed alone is not enough to predict sight problems.
Can vision problems in dogs be treated?
In humans, there are two common treatments for sight problems—corrective devices (glasses/contact lenses) and laser surgery.
The latter is also available for dogs, though it’s not as commonly used as in people.
There are also prescription glasses for dogs.
For the most part, however, dogs live with their condition for the rest of their lives.
This means that other than managing painful and life-threatening conditions, most of the care for dogs with eye problems boils down to making life easier for them.