American Polish Lowland
Sheepdog Association

POLISH LOWLAND SHEEPDOG AND PRA

ABOUT PRA (PROGRESSIVE RETINAL ATROPHY)


VIDEO

PRA is the shortened version of Progressive Retinal Atrophy, a condition of the eye which effects the retina and over time will cause some  Polish Lowland Sheepdogs  and some other breeds to become blind.  The retina changes the light it receives into images which follow the optic nerve to the brain. In PRA which is found not only in the Polish Lowland Sheepdog, but many other breeds as well, the retina stops developing prematurely or it may degenerate early in life.  Both eyes are affected,  and how and when the dog will be affected depends upon when it first develops  and the rate at which it progresses.There are two types which are known as early onset and late onset which means the progression is slower. No one can know for sure how fast a particular Polish Lowland Sheepdog or any breed will progress.

 

Progressive retina atrophy  must be diagnosed by a veterinarian who is knowledgable about eye problems.  An eye exam is given  and an electroretingraphy which measure electrical responses may be done to see if the retina is responding appropriately.
 
There is no treatment, but there are genetic tests which are available and should be given on each PON because it may not show up until age 5-7. By then PONS which have or carry it may already have been bred. It is important that you when purchasing a puppy ask the breeder to see the results of genetic testing done on the parents.  If both have it, beware!  If the test has not been done beware!  
 
If your dog  develops blindness, it can still live a healthy, happy life. The disease in PONs  may develop at 5-7 or not until 10-12.  Remember not all blindness is PRA.   Because it comes on slowly, chances are very good the Polish Lowland Sheepdog if it does have it will adjust.  It will help if you keep the furniture in the same place  and keep clutter out of byways so it is not tripped upon.  
 
All breeders in the breed should be breeding away from it and in order to do that all breeders should have all breeding stock tested.  There is more and  more information available as the genetic factor is being unlocked.  Remember the following:
Not all dogs in the breed  will have progressive retina atrophy.
Not all PONs carry the gene for PRA
Those PONS that do carry the gene, if bred at all, should be carefully mated to  PRA free dogs and  the owners of  those puppies  should be made fully aware of the possibility of problems.
 
One of the most complete and up to date studies comes from Finland where the breed has been being tracked with its health issues from the beginning.  Click on the link below to learn more about what is now known....it is the latest in news available.