What is glaucoma?

Primary glaucoma is a painful and blinding disease associated with high eye pressure.

The disease, which is difficult to treat successfully,  affects over 40 breeds of dog worldwide and at least 1,500 dogs in the UK each year, with the majority having to have both eyes removed.

Help us prevent more dogs like Taffy from losing their sight

Researching glaucoma

So far, we know that an abnormality affecting the drainage path of the eye, known as goniodysgenesis (also known as pectinate ligament dysplasia), is significantly associated with primary closed angle glaucoma, the most common form of glaucoma in dogs. This abnormality is inherited and seen in many dog breeds including Flatcoated Retrievers, Welsh Springer Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, American Cocker Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels, Basset Hounds, Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, Leonbergers and Dandie Dinmont Terriers.

By looking at the DNA of dogs affected by glaucoma or the abnormality, we can discover why glaucoma occurs and develop DNA tests to help prevent it. We’re currently working towards DNA tests for the following susceptible breeds: Basset Hounds, Dandie Dinmont Terriers, Welsh Springer Spaniels and Flatcoated Retrievers.

It’s heartbreaking to know that so many dogs go blind as a result of glaucoma. With support from dog owners and breeders, we can make a difference. By developing DNA tests for different forms of glaucoma, in time, we could eradicate this debilitating disease.

Dr Cathryn Mellersh
Dr Cathryn Mellersh, Head of Canine Genetics

Help our research into glaucoma

In order to develop new DNA tests, we need help from owners and breeders of:

  • any dog affected by severe goniodysgenesis or pectinate ligament dysplasia
  • any dog affected by primary glaucoma
  • any dog, over five years of age, confirmed clear of goniodysgenesis by a veterinary ophthalmologist

We cannot develop DNA tests to help more dogs without your help! You can help by requesting a cheek swab collection kit to gather DNA from your dog which you simply send back to us in the post!

Please send me a cheek swab kit to help with glaucoma research

This is Clover’s story

Clover, a 10-week-old puppy, was saved from blindness thanks to our glaucoma research. We created and launched a DNA test for primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), a painful condition which eventually leads to blindness in the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, in 2015. At this time, it was believed 1 in 20 Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen puppies would grow up to be affected with this blinding disease.

We’re very pleased to say that through responsible breeders using the DNA test, there have been no Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen puppies affected with POAG in the UK reported to The Kennel Club since 2018. Clover, and hundreds of puppies just like her, will never develop this form of glaucoma thanks to our research.

We need you to support our vital research to develop tests to beat this condition in many more breeds of dog.

Please help our glaucoma research

Donate now

We have already successfully created DNA tests for forms of glaucoma that affect Basset Hounds, Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens and Shar Peis.

These can be purchased from www.ahtdnatesting.co.uk 

1500 dogs are affected by glaucoma every year

6 mutations have been identified that cause glaucoma in six different breeds.

Research lead

Dr Cathryn Mellersh

Dr Cathryn Mellersh

Head of Canine Genetics

Cathryn's research aims to understand the genetic basis of inherited conditions that affect specific breeds of dogs. Her team identify the mutation(s) that are associated with inherited diseases and develop DNA tests.

Read Dr Cathryn Mellersh's bio

We are very grateful to the following for their ongoing support of this work:

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust,
Petplan Charitable Trust,
American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation,
BrAVO (British Association of Veterinary Ophthalmologists),
ECVO (European College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists),
various Breed Clubs and individuals.