A German shorthaired pointer (GSP) has had its vision vastly improved after undergoing alternative surgery to treat cornea disease.

Ten-year-old Cyrus was suffering from corneal endothelial dystrophy (CED) – an eye disease that causes premature degeneration of endothelial cells.

The disease can result in blindness and severe ocular pain from secondary complications.

Now thanks to alternative surgery at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching hospital, Cyrus’ vision has greatly improved. Researchers at the hospital enrolled Cyrus, a rescue dog, into the ongoing clinical trial led by Sara Thomasy.

It is hoped once the CED-causing gene is identified and isolated, the team will be able to create a genetic test to allow breeders to avoid producing dogs with CED.

Dr Thomasy said: “Based on the results of Cyrus’ CED study, I was worried he may not be a good candidate for the surgery. His corneas were the thickest of any dogs on which this surgery had been performed.”

The alternative surgery involves performing a superficial keratectomy then placing a very thin conjunctival advancement flap over the removed portion. Known as a SKCAHF (superficial keratectomy and conjunctival advancement hood flap) surgery, the procedure thins the cornea in the region where the surgery is performed, and, for reasons unknown to researchers, also in the central region that is left untouched.

Based on the success of the trial, Dr Thomasy believed it would work on Cyrus, even though his corneas were so thick. Cyrus underwent a successful SKCAHF surgery in March 2014.

Three months following surgery he had markedly improved corneal clarity and vision.

Dr Thomasy said: “We did know the SKCAHF surgery trial had been very successful in other dogs, including another GSP, but that dog had more moderate disease. Cyrus’ results are exciting because we now know this surgery can help dogs with severe disease.”

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