Flat-Coated Retriever Eye Problems

Flat-Coated Retriever Eye Problems

The Flat-Coated retrieverOpens in a new tab. is another of the wonderful retrieving dogs that are active, energetic, and intelligent.

Bred in the middle 1800s, they once were Britain’s most sought-after retriever until the Golden and Labrador retrieversOpens in a new tab. came on the scene.

Speaking of a Golden retrieverOpens in a new tab., this Flat-Coat holds a striking resemblance to the golden but only can be found in colors of black and liver.

They have a long, smooth, “flat coat” and stand as high as the Lab, but are leaner and display a certain elegance.

By far, the Flat-Coated retriever is a happy mood-lifting dog and often called “Peter Pan,” as they keep their carefree and fun-loving ways well into their senior years and are forever young at heart.

The Flat-Coated retriever can be prone to a few health problems Opens in a new tab.and some are eye-related. Although you’ll never see a Flat-Coat or any other dog with glasses, eye issues that may develop can affect their vision.

The following post will be information on Flat-Coated retriever eye problemsOpens in a new tab. as well as Flat-Coated retriever eye problems symptoms. Also found in this article will be Flat-coated retrieverOpens in a new tab. red eyes. as symptoms.

To check your Flat-Coated Retrievers’ health status or their DNA checks, please visit the Embark vet Opens in a new tab.website for all the help you may need.

Flat-Coated Retriever Eye Problems
Image by Andre SudholtOpens in a new tab. from PixabayOpens in a new tab.

Common Eye Condition in Flat Coated retriever

Before getting into certain eye diseases that can affect your Flat-Coated retrieverOpens in a new tab., I wanted to include a condition that is pretty common in all dogs and even in people.

Conjunctivitis is also known as “pink eye,” which you may be familiar with and your Flat-Coated retriever may develop this from time to time. With conjunctivitis, the covering of the eye, or conjunctiva, becomes inflamed.

Normally, the conjunctiva covers the white part (sclera) of your dog’s eye and also provides a lining for the eyelid, protecting and lubricating both.

Because of some sort of irritation, the eye will swell and become red. Conjunctivitis can develop in one or both eyes and symptoms are:

  • Swollen eyes and eyelids
  • Watery eyes
  • Redness
  • Rubbing of the eyes
  • Discharge that can be white, green, or yellow
  • Eyelids are stuck together after sleeping
  • Blinking
  • Squinting

Causes of conjunctivitis can be:

  • injury or trauma to the eye
  • blocked tear duct
  • allergies, known as allergic conjunctivitis. Allergens may be pollen, grasses, or indoor airborne irritants such as dust, smoke, cleaning products, scented candles, etc.
  • dry eye

Type of Cpnjunctivits

  • Bacterial Conjunctivitis

This is caused by either a staph infection from the bacteria staphylococcus or a strep infection from streptococcus. The bacterial form is a very contagious type of conjunctivitis.

Generally, antibiotic eye ointments or drops are prescribed, and sometimes if more severe, oral antibiotics as well.

  • Viral Conjunctivitis

This is a virus-based infection and is usually accompanied by an upper respiratory infection. This can take a few weeks to clear and can also be spread quite easily.

Treatment may be one or all eye drops like artificial tears or steroid-based and placing cool cloths on your pup’s eyes to soothe.

  • Allergic Conjunctivitis

Listed above as a cause, this is due to seasonal allergies or indoor irritants. Treatment may be lubricant or steroid-based eyedrops, NSAIDs, antihistamines, and/or cold compresses.

As long as conjunctivitis is not recurring or caused by an underlying condition, it is not worrisome.

If you try at-home treatments and they just aren’t working, have your veterinarian check your Flat-Coat out to know exactly what you’re dealing with.

Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious, but bacterial and viral are. Use proper hygiene, by washing your hands frequently, especially when administering eye drops and if you have other pets, try to keep them separated if one comes down with this. Wash bowls and toys so there is no cross-contamination.

Flat-Coated Retriever Common Eye Problems and Symptoms

Flat-Coated Retriever Common Eye Problems
Image by HundefanOpens in a new tab. from PixabayOpens in a new tab.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy occurs when photoreceptor cells begin to waste away and as they deteriorate so does your Flat-Coat’s eyesight. Photoreceptor cells let light into the eye and play a role in how we see color and the way we see at night.

Two types of PRA can be found in Flat-Coated retrievers. The first is generally called retinal dysplasia and is an inherited form occurring in puppies as young as two to three months.

The other type is simply referred to as PRA and is also inherited but is late-onset PRA that develops between the ages of three and nine years.

Breeds commonly affected by PRA are the King Charles Cavalier spaniel, English springer spaniel, cocker spaniel, Rottweiler, Bedlington terrier, Golden retriever,Opens in a new tab. Labrador retriever, and Flat-Coated retrievers.

PRA is not painful but the biggest early sign is night blindness. Your pup will begin to bump into furniture in the dark and may become reluctant to go outside at night. Pupils become more dilated.

Eyes will also seem to reflect more light. PRA affects both eyes. Unfortunately, this will gradually worsen until total blindness occurs.

This is not as devastating to a dog as it is to humans. Dogs will rely on their sense of hearing and smell and adapt quite well to sightlessness.

There is no treatment for PRA and once symptoms are present and a diagnosis is made, blindness occurs between one and two years.


Most older people will develop cataracts, which are a disease. Dogs can be afflicted by them too. Cataracts cloud the lens of the eye and make it opaque and milky while limiting vision. If they become too large, they can cause blindness.

Canines can be born with cataracts and these are known as congenital cataracts. This can be due to a developmental problem during pregnancy or simply by a genetic abnormality.

Cataracts are typical of older dogs but are frequently inherited. In some breeds, they can be noted at six months, and by the time the canine is two they can be totally blind with a rapid progression.

Causes of cataracts can be:

  • Injury
  • Genetic
  • Old age
  • Congenital
  • Diabetes
  • Caused by other Retinal Diseases
Catara symptoms are:
  • Bumping into furniture
  • Hesitant in a new environment
  • Squinting
  • Reluctance to play or climb stairs
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Red eyes
Catara treatments can be:
  • Eye drops to slow progression
  • Eye drops to shrink cataracts
  • Cataracts can be surgically removed in inherited and senior cataracts if your Flat-Coated retriever is deemed a good candidate.


Flat-Coated retrievers can be prone to entropion, an inherited disease that can be diagnosed in canines before they are a year old. Entropion affects both eyes and causes the eyelid to roll inwards.

Leaving this untreated can cause a whole host of other issues such as eye infection, corneal ulcers and can even impair vision.

When eyelids roll inward it also forces eyelashes and fur in towards the eye. This can be extremely painful not to mention scratching the eye. Symptoms are:

  • Eye rubbing
  • Watery eyes
  • Mucous
  • Red eyes
  • Pain

Surgery is the necessary treatment for entropion and the use of lubricating eye drops before and after.


Your Flat-Coated retriever’s eyes constantly produce fluid and they are normally able to drain it.

When glaucoma develops, fluid is unable to be drained causing a build-up of fluid which increases pressure in the eye and soon becomes very high. This pressure damages the optic nerve and in turn, leads to blindness.

Glaucoma can be primary or secondary. Primary glaucoma involves the improper function of drainage in the eye and is usually inherited. Secondary glaucoma develops from another disorder that strikes the eye. Causes can be:

  • Trauma
  • Inflammation
  • Tumors
  • Diabetes or another disease that affects the eyes

Symptoms of glaucoma are:

  • Squinting
  • Pain
  • Eye redness
  • Watery eyes
  • Cloudy, bluish-white cornea
  • Dilated pupil
  • Eye size becomes larger than normal
  • Loss of vision

Treatments can be diagnosing and treating an underlying condition, medication therapy with drops that control fluid and inflammation, and eye surgery for improving the flow of fluid in the eye.

Trying to prevent any health issues,Opens in a new tab. including eye diseases are impossible, after the fact. Dogs with any hereditary diseases and eye conditions, should not be bred.

When choosing a Flat-Coated retrieverOpens in a new tab. or any breed, use a reputable breeder and one that has a good track record and references.

Many eye diseases cause eventual blindness, but with any condition, early diagnosis may save your dog’s vision or at least make them more comfortable and slow progression.

If at any time, your Flat-Coated retriever has any signs or symptoms of eye disease, never hesitate to consult your veterinarian.

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