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Brown Goo in Your Older German Shepherd's Eyes? It Could Be Pannus.

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

Pannus, known as Chronic Superficial Keratitis, is an autoimmune disease frequently seen in older German Shepherds. Pannus is a condition that affects the cornea (the clear part of the eye), which typically manifests as a reddish-brown, non-painful lesion on the eye lens and surrounding tissues. Both eyes are typically affected. In some cases, the lesions can grow quite large and affect your dog's vision. While there is no cure for Pannus, there are ways to manage it and keep your fur friend comfortable.

In this #LifeWithOldDogs® blog post and podcast, we'll cover the"ins and outs" of Pannus in older German Shepherds.

What Causes Pannus?

Pannus is thought to be a hereditary condition that progresses as our dog ages. A once-healthy cornea becomes overrun by blood vessels and scar tissue, which usually starts from the lower and outer cornea and progresses until the eye is consumed, leading to blindness. Other factors that may lead to diagnosing Pannus are extensive exposure to UV rays, higher altitudes, and smoke.

What Are The Signs Of Pannus?

  • Redness and/or cloudiness at the outer edge of the cornea.

  • Redness and thickening of the third eyelid

  • Thickening of tissue over the eye

  • The cornea can look pink, white, or brown

  • Eye opaqueness

  • Excessive tearing

  • Visual impairment

How Is Pannus Diagnosed?

If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms in your dog's eyes, it's best to take him to your trusted veterinarian for a check-up. Once there, your vet will check for clinical signs and take his medical history and breed into consideration to come up with a diagnosis. Your vet may also incorporate additional testing, such as cornea staining to determine the severity of the damage, intraocular pressure testing, or cornea scraping. Although there is no definitive test for Pannus, testing is used to rule out other eye diseases.

Treatment for Pannus:

Since there is no cure for Pannus, treatment involves routinely applying topical anti-inflammatory medications such as cyclosporine, which stops the cornea and third eyelid inflammation. Additionally, topical steroids such as dexamethasone are used to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation. Furthermore, for advato remove the scar tissue or radiation therapy with Sr-90 may be utilized to achievefor advanced Pannus long-term benefits. And lastly, simple steps and tools such as keeping your dog out of direct sunlight during the strongest points of the day or buying him a snazzy pair of *Doggles to keep the sun out of his eyes will help keep Pannus in check, as will keeping his living environment smoke-free.

* Doggles are vet recommended for physical protection and protection from UV light.

Prognosis For Senior German Shepherds With Pannus

The prognosis hinges upon early diagnosis and proper treatment. Remember, this IS a progressive disease, so treatment is only going to slow the progression, not stop it completely. But with proper treatment, your dog can enjoy years where he is can still enjoy doing all the things he loves to do.

To listen to this week's #LifeWithOldDogs® podcast episode that coincides with this blog post, click here:

***** Disclaimer: Throughout the "20 Most Common Health Issues in Senior German Shepherds" series, each blog post is expressed explicitly from our point of view and is not to be substituted for the professional medical expertise of your trusted veterinarian.


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