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Professional Version

Retinal Detachment in Small Animals


Sara M. Thomasy

, DVM, PhD, DACVO, Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, and Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Science, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis

Reviewed/Revised Mar 2020 | Modified Nov 2022
Topic Resources

Retinal detachment is being diagnosed more commonly and is an important cause of vision loss (either unilateral or bilateral) in animals. It is an important postoperative complication of lens surgery. Once retinal detachment is detected, immediate medical and/or surgical treatment can reduce the resultant retinal degeneration and facilitate restoration of vision. Contributing factors include breed (eg, Shih Tzu with vitreal syneresis or Collies with Collie eye anomaly Inherited Retinopathies The ocular fundus consists of the upper tapetal fundus (if present), ventral and surrounding nontapetal fundus, retinal vasculature, and optic disc. Histologically, the posterior segment, from... read more Inherited Retinopathies ), previous cataract or lens removal, trauma (dogs, horses, and cats), systemic hypertension (cats and dogs), and systemic mycoses (dogs and cats). History, complete ophthalmic and systemic examinations, CBC, blood chemistry profile, and other diagnostic tests are important to determine the underlying cause. Important diagnostic tests for retinal detachment include:

  • ophthalmoscopy

  • B-scan ultrasonography

  • electroretinography

  • blood pressure measurement

Exudative nonrhegmatogenous retinal detachments may resolve with resolution of the inflammatory or hemorrhagic intra- and subretinal exudates. Some retinal degeneration usually occurs, but vision may return. Small holes or breaks, particularly in the ventral retina, may be successfully treated with a barrier retinopexy using diode laser photocoagulation of the surrounding normal retina. Repair of rhegmatogenous retinal detachments, characterized by retinal breaks (holes and tears), may be attempted using vitreoretinal techniques that are routine in people, including intraocular gases, silicone oil, scleral buckling, and laser or cryoretinopexy.

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