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Blindness + Seizures - Any Ideas?


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In February 2014, our girl (she was 6 years old at the time) went blind overnight. No warning signs at all, but when I got up to feed the pups in the morning, she was very timid about going downstairs and then proceeded to run into walls, didn't know I'd put her food dish down (she is a chow hound), ran into the door frame on the way out and couldn't get down the 3 stairs of our deck to get into the yard. I safely got her to the yard and then back into the house and immediately woke up my husband so we could get her to the vet. He noticed that her pupils weren't dilating at all - and we had her to the vet within an hour. They ran a panel of tests, and did some cursory sight tests - she didn't react at all to a finger up close to either eye and no dilating.

 

Vet couldn't find anything wrong with her, but mentioned sudden acquired retinal degeneration and recommended a specialty vet in the area (we do not like this practice at all) - but we had no choice as they were the only ones with an opthamologist on staff. Honestly, they were real jerks when we brought her in. They told us the only course of treatment would be steroids, but they refused to give us a prescription without subjecting her to about $2k worth of tests - which, in the end, if it turned out to be sudden acquired retinal degeneration then the treatment would still be steroids and they would have to act "quickly" or she could be forever blind. We asked if steroids could permanently harm her if she didn't have sudden acquired retinal degeneration, and were told they wouldn't - but no, they would not prescribe. Long story short, our regular vet was appalled by this and prescribed them right away.

 

So, no definite diagnosis, but she was on steroids for a month and she slowly regained most/all vision in her right eye (yay!) and I think she can at least see light/dark and shapes in her left. She can still spot the neighborhood cats a couple blocks away - though she still doesn't react to a finger/close object on that eye and pupil dilation is very slight. When the light hits that eye in a certain way, it appears just a little cloudy.

 

She didn't have any more issues until December 2014 when she experienced a very long grand mal seizure - it was pretty horrible. I'd just had knee replacement surgery and couldn't get out of bed, and she was having a seizure in the next room and I couldn't be with her - my husband was convinced she was dying, but she was convulsing so badly (and was unconscious) that he couldn't safely pick her up or get her to the emergency vet (we had them on the phone), nor could I be left alone. He ended up taking her to our vet the next morning for more tests - nothing found. A week and a half later, she had another seizure and was put on phenobarbital.

 

Since then, no seizures.

 

I'm wondering, though, are these two issues related? I can't help but think we are missing something horrible because no one has put the blindness and seizures together into a diagnosis. Am I overthinking this, or does this sound like "something" I should ask our vet about?

 

Thanks!

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I was thinking brain tumor also but she sight issue preceded the seizure by 10 months. That seems like a long time between the two incidents to be connected. The seizure was in December...4 months ago? Since then, she's been OK. That's good.

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I agree about seeing a neurologist as soon as possible.

Cynthia, & Cristiano, galgo
Always in my heart: Frostman
Newdawn Frost, Keno Jet Action & Chloe (NGA racing name unknown), Irys (galgo), Hannah (weim), Cruz (galgo), & Carly CW Your Charming

Princess http://www.greyhound-data.com/d?i=1018857

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life, gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are." -- Unknown

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I really can't offer an opinion whether they are related or not ... could be a tumor that is causing both or maybe 2 separate events. My Lucy has seizures and I had wanted to get a baseline MRI to rule out masses but the cost runs about 2 to 3K and I decided I wanted to keep that money for the future (just in case). My neurologist was not concerned about postponing the MRI as he stated, most people are not going to do brain surgery on a dog and it usually does not change the course of treatment. What he also mentioned and I found very interesting, is that if there is a tumor, it's usually evident within a one year to 1 1/2 years because the symptoms will progress enough to recognize the cause.

 

Re-thinking your description of the first event with the blindness .. sometimes seizures can do that. Running into walls, not knowing where they are, confusion ... this is sometimes what happens in the post phase of a seizure.

 

I do recommend seeing a neurologist and you should not have to get all the expensive tests (MRI & spinal), check when you make the appointment. Go over the 1st event and get his/her opinion whether it could be a seizure. Also, and very important, get rectal valium (and make sure the dose is rectal and not oral). Most dogs come out of seizures after a minute or two but, sometimes they go into a state called "clusters" when there is more than 1 seizure in 24 hours and this can lead to a condition called "status" when one seizure stops and another starts too close after the first (can lead to death). The rectal valium is used after the 2nd seizure (in less than 24 hours) to delay any that might happen for at least a few hours. If you have a dog that clusters, like my Lucy, I give after the 1st seizure. The neurologist can explain more about this and how to give the valium (very easy).

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Guest jetska

My old border collie cross had blindess & seizures. At the time I couldn't afford an MRI (was a student) but the neurologist said that it was likely a brain tumour. It was a very quick degeneration and when she stopped eating I had to put her to sleep.

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When I read your post my mind went straight to autoimmunity as another possible cause. Did the specialist you saw mention this as a possibility for the blindness? I think it would be well worth biting the bullet and having tests done, because if you don't there's a risk that you could miss something that could be treated. I would see a neurologist and get a confirmed diagnosis.

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When a relationship of love is disrupted, the relationship does not cease. The love continues; therefore, the relationship continues. The work of grief is to reconcile and redeem life to a different love relationship. ~ W Scott Lineberry

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Thanks, all. My first thought was brain tumor, as well, but it does seem like a long stretch between incidents. The blindness incident was Feb 21, the first (long) seizure was Dec 23. The second seizure was Jan 2. We do have the rectal valium for her, as well - in case she has another one.

 

We never got any indication from the "specialist" here about anything. This facility is also an e-vet, and we've had one horrible experience after another with them. We paid the emergency fee to get her in and "in the back" she (supposedly) saw the opthamologist. He wouldn't, however, speak directly to us and sent a vet tech to tell us that they saw some (slight) inflammation behind her left eye and they thought it was sudden acquired retinal degeneration. When we asked to speak to the opthamologist, we were told we had to pay an additional "specialty fee" just to talk to him. It was like $300-$400, if memory serves. On top of that, he wouldn't prescribe the only course of treatment (steroids) for sudden acquired retinal degeneration until we did the expensive testing first. We had another horrible incident with this clinic that ended in the death of our first greyhound (their screw-up), and I have a girlfriend who had two terrible incidents with them, the last resulting (needlessly) in a dead cockatiel. They, unfortunately, are the only ones in our area that have a neurologist on staff.

 

In other words, I won't be returning there, ever. Will definitely speak to our regular vet about getting a referral to NC State Vet School, instead. It's 3 hours away, but we've had nothing but positive experiences with them in the past.

 

Thanks, all! I wanted to make sure I wasn't being paranoid about the situation - since we just lost our boy on Easter Sunday, I'm not being very objective about it.

Edited by Sundrop
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:grouphug I'm sorry you had such a horrible experience with the "specialist". I am sending good thoughts that you get some answers and some good news at NC State. :hope:goodluck

Cynthia, & Cristiano, galgo
Always in my heart: Frostman
Newdawn Frost, Keno Jet Action & Chloe (NGA racing name unknown), Irys (galgo), Hannah (weim), Cruz (galgo), & Carly CW Your Charming

Princess http://www.greyhound-data.com/d?i=1018857

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life, gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are." -- Unknown

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