Corneal Dystrophy in Boston Terriers


Corneal dystrophy is considered hereditary in dogs and cats however the mode of transmission has not yet been established.

There are different forms of corneal dystrophy—

- A form of corneal dystrophy which is characterized by an abnormality on the
surface of the corneal epithelium (upper surface);
- Corneal dystrophy associated with deposition of fat within the stroma of
the cornea (middle layer);
- Corneal dystrophy as a result of degenerative changes in the endothelium
layer of the cornea (deepest layers of the cornea);


Puppies which have inherited the disease from either parent may show signs as early as four months old or as late as 13 years. It has been observed that the age of onset for the congenital form of corneal dystrophy usually depends on the dog’s breed.

Dogs with corneal dystrophy often have a cornea which appears grayish or bluish-white. The opaque eye has a metallic-looking appearance. A cloudy cornea is usually the first sign of the condition. The lesions in the cornea may appear as donut-shaped, oval, or round and are usually localized in the center of the cornea or near its outer edge.

Corneal dystrophy may result in blindness or corneal ulceration. There are also cases when the condition results in severe pain and destruction of the tissues of the affected eye. The effect and its severity are dependent on the portion of the cornea where opacity is present.

Corneal dystrophy should be distinguished from other disease conditions of the cornea. Most corneal diseases also manifest corneal opacity but most are non-hereditary or are degenerative in origin. A veterinary ophthalmologist should be asked to examine the dog and come up with a exact diagnosis.


Severe and rapid-developing forms of corneal dystrophy are common in Airdale terriers, Boston terriers, Chihuahuas, and Dachshunds while slow-developing and chronic forms are common in Cocker spaniels, Poodes, Samoyeds, Siberian huskies, German shepherds, Bichon Frise, and pointers.

There has been no satisfactory treatment for corneal dystrophy. Most cases are highly progressive and almost irreversible.

Many efforts have been made to cure if not halt the development of the disease. Drugs, corneal surgery, and/or diet management have been proven to be slightly effective. Surgery to remove the affected eye, also called enucleation, is sometimes indicated for severely affected patients.

Since it is mainly considered a congenital condition, affected dogs should never be allowed to breed. However, since there are some cases when the condition is manifested later in life, it is often difficult to prohibit the affected dog from breeding.