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

Updated: Apr 10

Pannus, otherwise known as Chronic Superficial Keratitis is an autoimmune disease frequently seen in senior 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 senior German Shepherds.



What Causes Pannus?

Pannus is thought to be a hereditary condition that progresses as our fur friend ages. A once healthy cornea becomes overrun by blood vessels and scar tissue, which usually starts from the lower and outer cornea progressing until the eye is consumed leading to blindness. Other factors that may lead to a diagnosis of 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 fur friend'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 as well as breed into consideration in an effort 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, or maintenance of, involves routinely applying topical anti-inflammatory medications such as cyclosporine which stops the inflammation of the cornea and third eyelid. Additionally, topical steroids such as dexamethasone are used to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation. Furthermore, for advanced Pannus, surgery to remove the scar tissue or radiation therapy with Sr-90 may be utilized to achieve long-term benefits. And lastly, simple tools such as keeping your fur friend out of the 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 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 fur friend can enjoy years where he is able to live a full life 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:


In season three of our #LifeWithOldDogs® podcast and blog, we cover the top 20 health issues found in senior German Shepherds, so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get all this free and valuable information delivered right to your inbox.


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Our fur friends don't live forever.....none of us do.... but as your German Shepherd ages, it's important to know the typical aliments your fur friend can suffer from and how to navigate the waters if something does come up instead of being blindsided and feeling helpless. We want to help you with that. At the end of season three of the #LifeWithOldDogs® podcast and blog posts, we will send you the entire season's worth of all the information we cover in a FREE ebook, so be sure to subscribe; to be "in the Know."


***** 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.