Chronic superficial keratitis - Pannus

What is pannus? ·

Pannus is a usually bilateral slowly progressive non-painful inflammatory disease of the canine cornea. It manifests itself as blood vessels, pigmentation, and scar tissue in the cornea. Left untreated, pannus can eventually lead to blindness. The cause is not known but it is believed to be an immune mediated disease that increases in severity with exposure to elevated levels of ultraviolet sunlight. It is also thought to have an inherited basis since certain breeds are more commonly affected.

Which breeds are more likely to develop pannus?

Approximately 90% of dogs with pannus are German shepherds (or Shepherd mixes). Other affected breeds include Belgian tervuerens, Siberian huskies, Border collies, and Greyhounds, although other breeds may be affected.

How is it diagnosed?

The clinical signs are characteristic for the disease. Occasionally a corneal or conjunctival scraping may be obtained and examined for specific cells.

How is pannus treated?

Pannus is treatable however not curable. Therefore life-long therapy is necessary to keep the disease under control. Initially you may be asked to treat aggressively with eye medications. Frequent re-examinations will be necessary to monitor the progress of the disease. If the disease is severe, initial injections may be necessary to halt the disease process. Once stabilized, your dog will be on the least amount of medication necessary to keep the disease under control. With most dogs this requires you to medicate with one eye medication once to twice a day. At this point re-examinations will need to be less frequent. However, we recommend that you look closely at the eyes yourself on a weekly basis to ensure the disease is not progressing.

Important points

  • Pannus is controllable but NOT curable. Life-long medication is necessary.
  • It is a non-painful disease. Therefore any increased squinting, redness or tearing shold be addressed by the veterinarian.
  • Left unteated pannus can lead to blindness.
  • UV-light can increase the severity of the disease. Keeping your dog out of the sunlight during peak hours is recommended.
  • Visit the website they have special sun goggles for dogs with this condition.

The most important factor in preserving your dog’s vision is diligent, uninterrupted eye treatment.