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Published: Jan 25, 2012

Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania recently discovered a treatment that can prevent or reverse X-linked Retinitis Pigmentosa (XLRP), a retinal disease that causes blindness in dogs. The disease is caused by defects in an ocular gene (RPGR) and can lead to early, severe and progressive vision loss. The scientists were giving shots to dogs of genetically modified viruses to deliver therapeutic RPGR genes to their eyes. They were able to successfully treat two different forms of the degenerative eye disease.

"Every single abnormal feature that defines the disease in the dogs was corrected following treatment," said lead author William Beltran, an assistant professor at Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine.

Pet owners who suspect their canine friends are developing eye problems should bring them to the veterinarian right away so the issue can be assessed and treated. The ASPCA reports there are a few clinical signs of eye health problems, including white- or red-rimmed eyelids, cloudiness of the eye or a change in color. Discharge and crusty buildup around the eyes, tear-stained fur and uneven pupil sizes can also be indicative of health issues with your dog's eyes.