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Eye Diseases



CERF was founded by a group of concerned, purebred owner/breeders who recognized that the quality of their dog's lives were being affected by heritable eye disease. CERF was then established in conjunction with cooperating, board certified, veterinary ophthalmologists, as a means to accomplish the goal of elimination of heritable eye disease in all purebred dogs by forming a centralized, national registry.


The CERF Registry not only registers those dog's certified free of heritable eye disease by members of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (A.C.V.O. ), but also collects data on all dogs examined by A.C.V.O. Diplomates. This data is used to form the CERF data base which is useful in researching trends in eye disease and breed susceptibility. Not only is this data useful to clinicians and students of ophthalmology, but to interested breed clubs and individual breeders and owners of specific breeds.


While CERF maintains its own database, the OFA and CERF have a positive working relationship, and CERF shares data electronically with the OFA. Once a month, CERF sends the OFA an update file containing all dogs which have been issued a CERF eye clearance. Based on matching registration numbers, all dogs on the CERF file with existing OFA records have their CERF data imported into the OFA database, and the CERF results appear on the OFA website.


For more information on CERF, please visit their website:


Corneal Ulceration


Corneal Ulceration is a fancy term for an abrasion to the cornea itself. The Pug's prominent, bulging eyes make the cornea vulnerable to a variety of injuries, which cause abrasions or scratches. Corneal Ulcers are the most common injury in Pugs, and prompt diagnosis and timely treatment is mandatory in preventing further damsage.


KCS (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca) or Dry Eye


This condition is caused by the lack of tear production. This can be due to lack of nerve stimulation of the tear glands, failure of the tear glands, or blockage of the ducts that carry the tears to the eyes. Full diagnosis can only be performed by a Veterinarian to determine the cause. Treatment will be dependent upon the cause and severity of the condition.




Eyelash hair grows, exiting from the gland opening along the smooth surface at the edge of the dog's eyelid. These abnormal eyelashes are known as distichia. They cause a problem when they rub against the dog's cornea, resulting in irritation and tears and sometimes even abrasions. Surgery is required for correction. Many Veterinarians consider Distachiasis in dogs an inherited disorder. American cocker spaniels, toy and miniature poodles, golden retrievers and miniature long-haired dachshunds, Shetland sheepdogs, Chesapeake Bay retrievers, English bulldogs, Lhasa apsos and shih tzus are predisposed to the condition. Fortunately, it is not as common in the Pug breed but is something to be aware of.




The rolling of the eyelid(s) into the eye, this is common due to the shape of the pug’s head, placement of the eyes & the over-nose wrinkle. The hairs or eyelashes will rub on the eye causing irritation. Generally, it will only be the inner corner of the bottom eyelid & as the pug grows & matures the problem self-corrects.


Progressive Retinal Atrophy: PRA


Is a hereditary eye disease causing the breakdown of retina cells. The breakdown is gradual leading to mid-life (age 5-7) blindness


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Pigmentary Keratosis


Pigmentary Keratopathy is the process of the cornea losing its normal transparency by the cells taking on brown pigment. It is common in brachycephalic breeds such as Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs, and Pugs. Researchers compare it to getting mud on your windshield. You can still see if there are only a few drops of mud spattered, the more mud spatter (pigmentation) there is, the more visually impaired you get until you are virtually blind. The cause of progressive pigmentation is still unknown but research continues. One of the goals of the Pigmentary Keratopathy in Pugs research team is to find a way to prevent and treat Pigmentary Keratopathy.


In the meantime, cyclosporine A (CSA) and tacrolimus are two eye-drops currently being prescribed that help decrease and prevent the spread of pigment on the cornea. Pigmentation will worsen if these medications are stopped, so they have to be taken life-long. These medications also help with dry eye (keratitis sicca) that some pugs develop as they get older. Dexamethasone or Prednisolone (steroids) are two other medications that may be prescribed.




Strabismus' is a term used to describe the abnormal positioning or direction of the eyeball. Normally, the eyeball is held in place and moves from side to side and top to bottom under the influence of small muscles which attach directly to the eyeball. Some breeders refer to this as 'Easty Westy' eyes. Occasionally one muscle may be longer or stronger than the muscle located on the opposite side. This causes the eyeball to veer off in an abnormal direction. One or both eyes may be affected. If both eyes deviate towards the nose, the pet is referred to as cross-eyed. This is common in Siamese cats and is called 'medial' or 'convergent strabismus.' The eyeballs may deviate away from the nose, just the opposite of being cross-eyed, and this is called 'divergent strabismus.' This is commonly inherited in in brachycephalic breeds.

Strabismus can also occur as a result of injury to some of the nerves going to the eye muscles. In addition, it may be seen if the dog has a disease of the vestibular system. The vestibular system is part of the ear and is what helps the dog (and us) keep our balance. If the vestibular system is not functioning normally, the dog may feel as though he is spinning, and his eyes will move abnormally to try to adjust to that.

If it is an inherited condition, no treatment is recommended as the abnormality is generally a cosmetic problem which does not affect the quality of life. If it is inherited, the breeding of affected individuals is not recommended.


For animals with injury to or disease of the nerves or the vestibular system, the underlying cause needs to be found and treated. Sometimes anti-inflammatory medications are helpful.




Trichiasis is the abnormal placement of normal eyelashes.  Pugs are extremely vulnerable to this problem due to the prominent nasal fold and esposed bulging eyes.  The result is a constant rubbing of the eyelashes on the eye and irritation to the conrea, resulting in excessive blinking, corneal abrasions, and pigmentation. The treatment for trichiasis is to return the lashes to a more correct position. In the Pug, this requires surgery.

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