Chronic superficial keratitis is also known as Pannus and several dog breeds are prone to developing this disease, including the German Shorthaired Pointer. The ending “itis” in a word means inflammation. Pannus is an inflammation of the cornea of the eye that can be related to the very sensitive immune system of the dog, which is the physiological body system in humans and animals that helps fight infection. The specific cause of this chronic disease is unknown, but it is speculated that it could develop due to the influence of both ultraviolet light and altitude. Although the cause is not yet proven, those who study its progression believe that the German Pointer is genetically predisposed to the development of pannus. As mentioned above, it is widely believed that there is something wrong with the immune system in this breed that leads to pannus. For the most part, the dogs that develop this disease are older dogs, but it can occur with younger adult dogs as well.
Pannus is a progressive disease in which parts of the dog’s eye (cornea, conjunctiva, and third eyelid) become severely and chronically inflamed. The condition is also painful for your pet. Some of the things that can occur in the eye include changes in the cornea, eye pigmentation, cholesterol deposits in the eye, development of dry eye, and granulation tissue. The disease usually affects both eyes, but it can occur in different places in each eye. The owner may first see a kind of pink film on the eye that spreads and affects vision. Your pet may tear and have red eyes. This can move into cells that start to cover the cornea, thicken, and eventually lead to blindness if left untreated.
Chronic pannus disease will require treatment for the rest of the German Shorthaired Pointer’s life. Therapy usually consists of steroid eye drops and ointment, but there is no real cure for this condition. Sometimes other treatments, such as steroid injections into the eye, can be used to help prevent excessive corneal scarring. In some cases, a vet may suggest surgery and possibly radiation therapy to help maintain as much vision as possible and slow the progression of the disease as much as possible. Also, as mentioned above, these treatments may be less effective if affected dogs are exposed to UV light frequently and live at high altitudes. With proper care and a careful look, your dog will do just fine.