What You Should Know about Strabismus (Wall Eyes) in Boston Terriers

While one of the Boston Terrier’s most defining characteristics is his black-and-white coloration, there are several other physical traits that make this breed easy to identify. For example, these dogs usually have large, erect ears, a stubby tail, and bulging eyes. Not only does this breed’s eyes tend to bulge, but they are also subject to a condition called strabismus, or walleye.

What is Strabismus in Dogs?

Strabismus is an eye condition in which the eyes point in the wrong direction. Rather than having both eyes pointed forward and parallel to the nose, dogs with strabismus may have eyes that turn inward toward the nose or outward away from the nose. An inward turning of the eye is referred to as esotropia, while an outward turning is called exotropia. With this condition it is only the direction of the eye that is affected – the position of the eye within the socket remains normal. It is possible for Boston Terriers and other dogs to develop strabismus in just one eye, though it is commonly seen in both. When both eyes turn outward it is called divergent strabismus and when they turn inward it is called convergent strabismus – dogs with convergent strabismus are often said to be cross-eyed or walleyed.

There are many potential causes for strabismus in dogs and it can occur at any age. In cases where the condition is inherited it is often congenital, or present at birth. Hydrocephalus can also contribute to strabismus in puppies. Other potential causes for the disease include abnormalities in the development of the eye or the muscles of the eye. Strabismus can be caused by toxic nerve paralysis, inflammation in the brain, trauma to the eye or the eye muscles, and cancer of the brain or the nerves that lead to the eye. In Boston Terriers, strabismus is generally an inherited condition.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Because strabismus affects the direction of the dog’s eye, it is fairly easy to diagnose. What is not so easy to diagnose is the cause for the condition. Symptoms of strabismus in Boston Terriers include one or both eyes pointing in an abnormal direction, uncoordinated movement of one or both eyes, mental dullness, lethargy, lack of appetite, tilting the head, differences in pupil size, falling or turning to one side, and seizures. In order to diagnose your dog with strabismus your vet will need to complete an ophthalmic examination as well as a neurological examination. Other tests like CBC, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis may be warranted as well. Treatment for strabismus in Boston Terriers is generally aimed at correcting the underlying cause of the problem. There is unfortunately no way to prevent the condition from developing, but most causes for the disease are not life-threatening.

Although strabismus is very common in Boston Terriers, there is no guarantee that your dog will develop this condition. Still, you should always be on the lookout for the symptoms listed above and consult your veterinarian if you think your dog is developing the condition. Make sure to track all of your dog’s symptoms so the vet can make an accurate diagnosis regarding the cause for the condition and then determine the best course of treatment.

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