The answer is definitely YES!
If your pet is having vision impairment, and your general, practice veterinarian is not sure of the actual cause of the vision impairment, it is vital that you are referred to a board certified, veterinary ophthalmologist, as soon as possible, for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Please realize, there are other diseases besides SARDS that can cause optic diseases and vision impairment. They can all lead to partial and or, complete blindness. This is why it is so very important for you to seek the help of a veterinary opthalmologist. You need to know what optic disease your dog has and have your veterinary ophthalmologist provide proper treatment before complete blindness occurs and becomes the final result.
What are some of the other optic diseases that should not be confused with SARDS?
NOTE: The following descriptions of these other optic diseases have been simplified and are designed to provide information and an understanding for the pet owner and should not be confused in any way with the scientific descriptions of optic diseases, provided for you, by your veterinary opthalmologist.
PROGRESSIVE RETINAL ATROPHY (PRA)
PRA relates to a special group of genetic diseases that occurs in certain breeds of dogs, but rarely occurs in cats.
PRA presents itself as a bilateral retinal degeneration that may cause impaired vision, leading to blindness.
The ophthalmological signs of PRA may indicate a tortuosity and regression of the optic vessels, a decrease in pigmentation of the nontapetal fundus caused by a thinning of the retina, and a possible darkening and atrophy of the optic disc.
RETINAL DYSPLASIA (RD)
RD is a disease of the retina that is found in dogs and is found less commonly in humans. It may effect one or both retinal tissues of the eye.
RD can may occur in only a localized area of the retina or it can be widespread, effecting most, if not all, of the retinal tissue.
RD can manifest itself in an irregular or horseshoe shaped pattern on the retina and cause various degrees of either hypo or hyper reflectiveness.
It also may be seen as round clumps and folds of the retinal tissue.
The cause of Retinal Dysplasia is thought to occur due to genetics, viruses, drugs, and vitamin A deficiencies. NOTE: I also worry about the use of monthly insect repellents being a possible cause of RD.
RETINAL DETACHMENT (RDT)
RDT is found mainly in dogs and in humans. This is a disease that will cause the retinal tissue to detach from the tissue from beneath.
The detachment can be very small and localized or can encumber most of the retinal tissue, if not all of it.
RDT can lead to total blindness if not repaired in 24 to 48 hours.
The cause of RDT is thought to occur from genetics, trauma, infection, inflammation and cancer.
Retinal detachment may also accompany retinal dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy.
All the above optic diseases need to be identified and treated correctly and are different from SARDS, which is an autoimmune disease.
New clinical studies are also making an effort to identify and differentiate other autoimmune optic diseases that may lead to blindness and mimic SARDS.
Obviously, the best way to accomplish this distinction is to make an immediate appointment with a veterinary opthalmologist who will help you decide which optic disease your pet may have and which will be the best course of treatment.
I hope this article will offer you a better understanding of some of the various optic diseases found in dogs that are different than SARDS. Your veterinary ophthalmologist will be able to provide you with a much more comprehensive list of other optic diseases that will also mimic SARDS.
Hopefully this article will also help your pet have a better chance for vision recovery from an optic disease once the proper diagnosis and treatment are determined by your veterinary ophthalmologist.