Common Eye Conditions
Animal Eye Vet - Murrieta, CA
Puppies are born with their eyes closed and it’s not until the third week during the transition period that the puppy’s eyes and ears open.
Acuity (clarity of vision)
Compared to us, dogs have poor vision up close and reasonably good vision at a distance.  A human with good vision would have 20/20 vision. A dog’s vision is typically 20/75, meaning the detail a human can see at 75’ a dog with typical vision needs to be at 20’ to see the same detail. “To give you a feeling about how poor this vision is, you should know that if your visual acuity is worse than 20/40 you would fail the standard vision test given when you apply for a driver's license in the United States and would be required to wear glasses. A dog's vision is considerably worse than this.”
Field of Vision
The average dog has a field of vision between 240 and 250 degrees. This gives the average dog a field of view that is about 60-70 degrees greater than us humans. This is one reason they see things moving before us most of the time. Brachycephalic breeds like the boxer have a broad skull and short muzzle. These dogs have frontally placed eyes giving them a field of vision of about 200 degrees. The narrower the dog’s field of view, the more binocular vision they have which helps with better focus and depth of field straight ahead. Compare the brachycephalic breeds with dolichocephalic breeds like a greyhound where the eyes are set further to the side, they have a field of view of about 270 degrees. Sight hounds like the greyhound have a much narrower binocular vision when looking straight ahead. The wider field of view adds to their ability to detect peripheral movement. This is also a consideration when walking your dog. A dog like a Boxer with a narrower field of view looking straight ahead can lose sight of you easily if they are out in front. On the other hand an Afghan Hound can keep you in their peripheral vision while they are in front with much less work. (See Walking Your Dog) The greater peripheral vision in turn can fuel the desire to give chase to other animals. Movement can be just as distracting for dogs, as it is for us humans when learning. Ivan Pavlov known for his experiments with dogs using tones and salivation learned that something as simple as a shadow being cast into the room could interfere with learning.
In good lighting, dogs can see in color but mostly yellows, blues, and combinations of these colors. This is why an orange ball in the green grass doesn’t stand out to the dog like it does to us. Since they have red-green type colorblindness they do not see the contrast in the way we do. Dogs do have excellent low light vision and seeing differing shades of gray like they do they can detect movement in low light about three times better than us. It is now believed that dogs can see in ultraviolet which means they can see things in low light that are invisible to humans.  (See below)
Stairs & Steps
There can be many reasons dogs will not willingly negotiate steps or stairs. One reason can be due to poor vision and depth perception problems which is highlighted when dogs are asked to descend steps due to the monochromatic color of the steps making it difficult see where one step ends and another begins. The ASPCA Adoption Center in New York found that dogs would willingly negotiate the stairs after they were painted blue and yellow so the dogs could see where each step ends and another begins.
Sometimes dogs will stop at the stairs since they have never encountered stairs before. Or it could be the steps are too steep and not a comfortable size for the dog. Dogs can have structural issues which prevent them from comfortably moving up or down the steps. It requires core strength and balance to go downstairs and obesity will add to these problems making dogs feel out of control. Dogs without pain issues can have an easier time moving upstairs since they can see where each step starts and ends.
When introducing steps or stairs to dogs start off by asking the dog to climb the stairs with you, not descending. When climbing stairs dogs can see the top of the next stair easier and its easier for them to control their balance. If a dog hesitates to climb the stairs it could be due to never encountering stairs before, hip dysplasia, back problems, leg problems, etc…
“Unlike humans, many animals see in ultraviolet, and a study now suggests that cats, dogs and other mammals can, too. Knowing these animals see things invisible to humans could shed some light on the animals' behavior, the researchers say.”
"Nobody ever thought these animals could see in ultraviolet, but in fact, they do," said study leader Ron Douglas, a biologist at City University London, in England.”
Eye Protection & Sunglasses?
Generally speaking dogs do not need eye protection or sunglasses. But there are dogs that can benefit from eye protection. This is a short article by Dr. Dodds that can help you decide.
Distichiasis - eyelash hairs rubbing against the cornea, irritating it.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
Marcella Ashton BVSc, DVM, MRCVS, DACVO
6023 Jefferson Ave. Ste. E, Murrieta, CA 92562
Phone: (951) 801-6166
Fax: (951) 304-1018
 The Dog’s Mind Bruce Fogle
 The Dog Its Behavior, Nutrition, and Health Second Edition Linda P. Case
 Conditioned Reflexes I.P. Pavlov
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