Labrador Eye Problems

Labrador Eye Problems

Labrador retrievers and all dogs have a very keen sense of smell. They can smell from 10,000 to 100,000 times more acutely than we humans.

They have about 50 scent receptors in their nose which are many more than people which allows them to have that super sniffing ability.

When considering a dog’s eyesight, their eyes are pretty similar to the human eye except that humans have three cones in the retina and dogs only have two. Three cones allow us to see in bright vivid color.

Contrary to popular belief, however, your Lab doesn’t just see in black and white. They see color as a person who is colorblind. Shades are not vibrant like we see them.

Dogs are also quite nearsighted. Humans can be nearsighted, myself included, but our vision can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or even Lasik surgery.

Dogs also don’t view things with the brightness that we do either. They do get points though because when something is in motion, their vision catches it pretty quickly and it is clearer when moving.

Dogs have excellent vision Opens in a new tab.in the dark as opposed to us. That’s why we may stub our toe getting out of bed in the dark, but they never bump into anything!

What your Lab loses in some visual ways they make up for with the sense of smell and their excellent hearing.

Dogs and humans alike can learn to live sightlessly but this does not mean that your Lab’s eyes are unimportant. Their vision is important and should be safeguarded.

In this post, I will delve into Labrador’s eye problems. I will also answer the question, “Are Labradors prone to eye problems?” Also included will be a Labrador eye infection.

To check your labrador 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.

Labrador Eye Problems
Image from PixabayOpens in a new tab.

Are Labradors Prone To Eye Problems?


Labrador retrieversOpens in a new tab. are a relatively healthy and robust breed that pairs well with their energetic, happy-go-lucky demeanor. Any breed has the potential for health issuesOpens in a new tab. regardless of how healthy the breed as a whole is deemed.

Eye injuries and infections can occur in any breed but there are a few eye conditions that Labrador retrieversOpens in a new tab. are prone to and which are hereditary.

It is best to check your breeder’s medical records before getting a Lab to make sure there are no underlying health issuesOpens in a new tab. in their breeding dogs.

Also, if you are planning to breed your Lab, their eyes should be checked thoroughly as well as their overall health. Labradors are prone to some eye problems.Opens in a new tab.

Are Labradors Prone To Eye Problems?
Image by Nikki LuijpersOpens in a new tab. from PixabayOpens in a new tab.

Labrador Eye Problems, Symptoms and Treatment


Listed below are eye conditions that Labs are prone to and their symptoms and treatments.

  • Cataracts

Everyone has heard of cataracts, which are quite common in humans and dogs as we age. Cataracts are quite noticeable in the eye as it causes the lens to turn a filmy white.

This poses a challenge for light to be transmitted to the retina and, in turn, will cause partial or total blindness. Cataracts can affect one or both eyes.


Although cataracts are primarily thought of as a “Senior” problem, cataracts can occur in young dogs due to injury, a deficiency in the diet, illness, such as diabetes, and heredity.

Cataracts in retrievers over six are referred to as senile cataracts while congenital and inherited cataracts occur in newly born puppies.

Congenital cataracts develop due to an infection in the mother’s womb before birth. Inherited cataracts are beginning to develop at birth, but are not generally seen until around six months of age.

Cataracts are fairly easy to recognize and diagnose. Symptoms are a cloudiness of the eye, which is very noticeable, and reduced vision.

Veterinary treatment may be eye drops and supplements to slow progression. Surgery can be performed, but dogs seem to have more complications after eye surgery than people.

Also, about one-third of Labs go on to develop glaucoma after surgery, Cataracts can cause eventual blindness but so will glaucoma. New treatments and techniques are being researched all the time.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy PRA

PRA is another eye disease that Labrador retrievers are prone to and it is primarily hereditary in nature. This can present in older dogs or in puppies a few months in age. Atrophy is wasted away and PRA causes cells in your pup’s eyes to decay and die.

Light gradually decreases and eventual blindness occurs. This disease is degenerative which means it gets worse as time goes by.

Identifying the symptoms early can help slow progression, but unfortunately, symptoms may not be noticeable until your Lab is well on its way to blindness. Symptoms are listed below.

  • Your Lab may seem clumsy by bumping into furniture around your home.
  • Your Lab may have a hard time finding toys or even locating doors in your home.
  • They may struggle and be really confused in unfamiliar places.


Treatment for PRA should begin with prevention by using a responsible breeder who tests all breeding dogs genetically. This helps with many other hereditary medical conditions, some of which are severe.

If Progressive Retinal Atrophy is suspected, your veterinarian will check your Lab’s eyes and may order genetic testing to make a definitive diagnosis.

There really is no effective treatment for PRA but your veterinarian may use vitamins or antioxidant supplements to try and slow progression.

As the disease advances, helping your pup to transition as easily and comfortably to sightlessness will be the main goal. It is gradual, and dogs do quite well because they can rely on their other excellent senses.

Retinal Dysplasia

Another common and inherited eye disease that Labradors are prone to be retinal dysplasia. Retinal dysplasia takes place when your Lab’s retina does not develop properly.

It can have a shape that is abnormal, causing vision impairment or partial vision loss. Some cases are mild and others so severe that the retina becomes detached, causing total blindness.

This unfortunately can appear in puppies as young as ten months. Symptoms generally show up early with the appearance of clumsiness, bumping into furniture and walls, and even losing their way around your home.

This is a hard disease to diagnose. There may be folds in the retina but this can be an indication of other conditions as well. There is no treatment or cure for retinal dysplasiaOpens in a new tab. and it may lead to total blindness.

Again, dogs do adjust well to sightlessness. Never breed your Labrador if they have any genetic abnormalities and also begin with a Lab from a reputable breeder that participates in genetic testing and keeps good records.

Labrador Retriever Eye Infection


Eye infection in Labs, other breeds, and humans is known as conjunctivitis or pink eye. Read on to find out what conjunctivitis is, its causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Conjunctivitis

This condition is very common Opens in a new tab.in dogs, cats, and humans alike. A mucus membrane, the conjunctiva, covers the underside of eyelids and the whites of your pup’s eyes.

This protects the eye and also helps with the production of tears. Tears fight against infection. If this membrane becomes swollen and inflamed, it is responding to an attack on the eye and also usually becomes red, leading to an eye infection, conjunctivitis.

Symptoms are:

  • Swelling of eye and/or eyelid
  • Whites of one or both eyes are red (pink eye)
  • Dogs have a third eyelid which may protrude in the corner of their eye
  • Rubbing Eyes
  • Blinking and/or Squinting
  • Eye Pain


Conjunctivitis can be viral which would produce a clear discharge or bacterial (infection), where mucus would be green pus.

Causes of Conjunctivitis

In a study conducted by the University of California Davis, it was found that labradors have an increased risk for conjunctivitis.

This may be because their eyes are so close to the ground where bacteria and other contaminants can enter them more easily than in breeds with higher eye placement.

Following this discovery at UC Davis, veterinarians recommend washing hands before touching or examining your pet’s face–especially after you’ve touched any surfaces outside!

The results also suggest that breeders should consider genetic testing when choosing potential parents as one way to help reduce infection rates among puppies who will soon be going through medical training Opens in a new tab.programs such as Guide Dogs For Blind Americans.

Causes of conjunctivitis are:

  • Allergic reaction – dust, pollen, cleaners, fabric softeners, dog shampoos, etc.
  • Blocked tear duct
  • Injury to the eye – a scratch, foreign object
  • Dry eye
  • Entropion – lashes grow inward causing scratches on the eye
  • Parasites
  • Glaucoma
  • Tumor


Treatment for conjunctivitis depends on whether it is viral or bacterial in nature. If there is a foreign object, this needs to be removed and an injury must be cleaned and tended to. Antibiotics are generally prescribed.


If conjunctivitis is due to a virus or bacteria, an antiviral or antibiotic will be administered. Medications may be oral and/or topical as eye drops or ointment. Pain meds may also be used.

If your pup has an eye irritation you can try a salt water rinse, but after a day or two, if there is no improvement see your Lab’s veterinarian.

Make sure to wash your hands frequently when treating your pup. Some infections can be transmitted to you.


As the saying goes, “the eyes are the window to the soul.” Your Lab’s eyes sure do tell you a lot about them when they look soulfully into your eyes! Taking care of your retriever’s eyes is very important to their health and quality of life.

Be sure to wipe their eyes regularly as part of their grooming routine and check in with your veterinarian if you notice anything at all out of the ordinary, Don’t delay seeking help so your Labrador retriever can have the best vision for years to come.

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