Prescription Glasses for Dogs

Now dogs may face the backyard taunt of being called "four-eyes." Or you may see a blind dog walking down the street wearing stereotypical dark glasses. No, I'm not kidding.

Doggles, a manufacturer of protective eyewear for dogs, is trying out a line of canine corrective lenses for dogs that can't see far beyond the end of their noses.

For mature mutts that begin to lose their eyesight or for dogs that have lost their vision due to cataracts or unsuccessful cataract surgery, doggie glasses may be just what the doctor ordered.

In particular, he said, the lenses can be used to correct the farsightedness that occurs in dogs that have had cataract surgery but could not have lens implants. A dog that has undergone cataract surgery without receiving a lens implant will be able to spot a cat across the street but perhaps not see a piece of kibble in front of its food dish. Typically, dogs without lenses are about twice as farsighted as humans without lenses.

Brinkman notes that these dogs -- from Great Dane to tiny Chihuahua -- all have a fairly similar refractive prescription so you wouldn't need hundreds of types of glasses to fit dogs. Specially trained veterinarians are able to determine a dog's prescription by performing a retinoscopy, similar to how a human ophthalmologist determines the prescription for a very small child who is too young to read the eye chart.

To determine if the prescription lenses really help the dog see better requires a combination of subjective observation by the owner along with asking the dog to identify familiar things like a favorite toy.

Doggles, which even makes prescription sunglasses for dogs, is also offering solid black lenses for dogs that are blind.

The black lenses comfort dogs with failing eyesight who are super-sensitive to light and they protect eyes from damage when blind dogs bump into things. The lenses also serve as a protective patch after eye surgery and they help to alert people who may interact with the dog that it is unable to see.

Doggles also makes dog goggles, which are typically used to protect the eyes of dogs who ride in cars and trucks and are in danger of having their eyes damaged by flying debris, or for certain breeds of dogs, like German shepherds who have a dry eye condition called Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca or a condition called Chronic Superficial Keratitis, or Pannus, where the eye becomes covered with a brown covering. With KCS and Pannus, environment can be a contributing factor. Pannus is caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, and a reduction in the exposure to UV rays is recommended for the long-term care and treatment of the condition.

Dr. Marty Becker is a veterinarian, author, educator and a regular guest on ABC News' Good Morning America

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