Published: 23/08/2016 16:22:29
ROXY, who SUDDENLY WENT BLIND, ASTOUNDS AHT VETS BY REGAINING HER SIGHT
Roxy, a Giant Schnauzer, was four when she bounded into Erica and John Redmond’s life. Boisterous, fun and loving; she soon won her way into their hearts. However, earlier this year, at just seven years old, her sight started to deteriorate very quickly and her fun personality also started to fade away.
Out on a walk, she accidentally ploughed into her owner, John, at a full gallop. Roxy was also no longer the first to catch a ball when thrown. Roxy’s sight problems became much more life-threatening as she carelessly wandered off a low promenade wall. An immediate appointment with the vet was initially suggestive of an eye infection, but if she got any worse, it was advised Roxy should be referred to a veterinary ophthalmologist for further tests.
The next day, Roxy narrowly missed walking into a tree. That night, she was bumping into furniture. Seriously concerned that her sight was worsening, Erica and John asked their vet to make an appointment at the Animal Health Trust.
Erica said: “We were very confident this was the right way forward for Roxy. Renata Stavinohova, one of the ophthalmologists there, asked us lots of questions; for instance: Had she eaten anything unusual? Does she drink a lot? Has she had any recent trauma? Has she ever been abroad?
“We answered as best we could, then Renata examined Roxy’s eyes and found severe inflammation and that both of Roxy’s retinas were detached. Renata confirmed our worst fears: Roxy was blind in both eyes.”
Roxy was kept in for close monitoring and so that the AHT could start diagnostic tests straight away to try to find a cause, or to at least eliminate possible causes, so that the best treatment plan could be determined.
Most tests came back negative and in most cases like Roxy’s, no underlying cause is ever found. Therefore, the conclusion was drawn that Roxy’s retinal lesions were most likely immune-mediated and she was started on a course of steroid tablets and eye drops to suppress the immune response that was attacking her retinas.
Soon Roxy was ready to be discharged to continue her medication at home. Kelly, the veterinary ophthalmology nurse, prepared a medication chart for Erica and John to follow and spent time making sure they were comfortable administering the eye drops.
Determined to give Roxy as much care and support as they possibly could, Erica and John set about making some adjustments around the house. This included bubble wrapping furniture so Roxy couldn’t bump into it and using perfume to sign post doorways so she could more easily navigate her way around.
Erica said: “Against all our expectations, Roxy coped very well around the house and garden. She allowed us to give her eye drops and her pills, without any apparent stress for her.
“The steroids caused muscle wasting so she no longer had the strength to jump into the back of the car, but John made a ramp out of a wardrobe door and a carpet runner! We bought white leads and a harness which said 'Blind Dog', however, this had mixed results as people assumed she was a guide dog! We were due to go away to visit our daughter in the USA but we decided to cancel. There was no way we could leave her with someone else!”
Two weeks later, Roxy was back to the AHT to be re-examined. Although the inflammation had slightly improved, Roxy’s retinas were still detached and Roxy was still blind in both eyes. Renata and her supervisor, James Oliver, decided to alter Roxy’s medication and start her on a stronger immunosuppressant medication.
“Within a few days we were convinced she could see a little” said Erica. “The clues couldn't all be due to her other senses being heightened. Walking down the road, she saw a man approaching from 50 yards and barked at him! Another time we thought she 'saw' children walk across her vision about 100 yards away, her head moving as they did! We excitedly emailed Renata to tell her the good news, who was pleased, but wanted to see for herself!
“On her next appointment Renata couldn't stop smiling with amazement! Roxy reacted to vision tests positively, not just the left eye, but the right eye too! Proof she could see again!” added Erica. Renata confirmed that Roxy’s retinas were reattached and she had regained some vision.
Renata Stavinohova said: “This is truly an interesting and amazing case and we are so pleased for Roxy, Erica and John. When I first saw Roxy she was, understandably, a quiet, subdued dog who was blind and frightened. The change in her now is quite remarkable! I have never seen this side of her before but it is quite obvious that the treatment has worked and Roxy is making fantastic progress.”
Erica and John are thrilled: “Her strength has been returning. She no longer requires the ramp for the car and she has more energy. Somehow she is back to her dear self, and we couldn’t be more grateful to the staff at the Animal Health Trust for their care and attention throughout this worrying time.”
Renata Stavinohova examines Roxy's eyes.
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