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Can Dogs Have Bad Eyesight? Why I Think My Dog Needs Glasses 🐾 Little Dog Tips

As I get closer to my upcoming eye surgery, I’ve been thinking more about my dog’s eyesight too.

The thing is, I didn’t know that I had strabismus until I was about 25 years old. Up until then, I may have had mild double vision that made me feel tired and unfocused for my entire childhood. It wasn’t until I started driving on highways and long roads more often that I realized that something just wasn’t right.

Since then I’ve worn glasses with prisms in them to correct the double vision. The very double vision that I didn’t know that I had, and that my eye doctors from earlier never noted.

Besides the double vision, which I’m hoping to get corrected, I also have severe near-sightedness. That’s unmistakeable, if I’m not wearing glasses or contacts I couldn’t see beyond five inches in front of my face.

As for our dogs, they can’t tell us that their world is fuzzy.

Of course, they don’t need to read, go to work, or drive. So it isn’t of much consequence if they have a slight vision impairment.

But there are times when I wonder… especially when it comes to my dog Cow.

My dog Cow runs into the screen door every single time I open it and it’s in her way. She simply does not see it.

And in the nighttime, she excitedly runs up to rocks, leaves, only to realize they are not actually frogs until she gets right in front of them.

She also tends to bark at family members entering the front door for longer than Matilda does before she identifies them.

These are occasional happenings that don’t leave me very concerned on a day-to-day basis.

I‘ve asked the vet about her eyes. The vet confirmed that she did seem to have an old scar from a healed cornea scratch, which she’s had since before she was mine, but otherwise the outward appearance of her eyes were not notable.

Cow also has a bluish tint to her pupil, another concern I’ve brought up with the vet. The vet said it was just the color of the lens of her eye.

I later found out that this phenomenon is called Lenticular sclerosis.

As our dogs age, their lens can get a little cloudy and may look bluish, and it can in fact slightly impede their vision, but it’s generally considered benign.

Since last year, Matilda has started to develop old blues,” as well, though I haven’t noticed any signs that she has trouble seeing, yet.

As for people, every elder person I know and love has started to use reading glasses. This is also due to changes related to aging that have to do with the lens of the eye.

Do Dogs Ever Need Glasses?

I’ve actually asked my eye doctor how they prescribe glasses for babies, who are unable to communicate which letters they can read on the chart. The doc said that they do this by using eye drops to dilate the pupil and shining a light in the eye.

So, for dogs with true vision concerns, it’s likely that a visual assessment can tell a vet a lot about how your dog sees the world.

Dogs don’t usually wear glasses for obvious reasons, but there are surgical options as well as hard contact lenses for treatable eye issues.

And of course, some dogs are mostly or completely blind, and they just rely on their primary sense, their sense of smell, to navigate the world around them.

For blind dogs, there’s this invention called Muffin’s Halo, that works similar to a cane for the blind. It’s a harness with a plastic “halo” fitted over the dog’s head so the dog gets feedback when they bump into something or someone. I’ve seen it in person, and it really is the cutest thing in the world to have a tiny dog bump into your leg and happily change direction and continue on their little way.

How Do Dogs Normally See?

A human with 20/20 vision has normal vision and can see clearly at distances of up to 20 feet, and they can read the bottom of a vision chart from 20 feet away.

A typical dog has 20/75 vision. That means what a normal-visioned human would see from 70 feet away, a dog would need to be at a distance of only 20 feet. So, dogs are nearsighted, like me. If dogs could read, they could only read up until the third line of the vision chart from 20 feet away.

If the average dog wore glasses, their prescription would be -1.75, which is really not that bad.

Well, mine is -10.5, so in comparison, it’s not that bad.

But dogs are also red-green colorblind. They mainly see in a dull range of yellows and blues.

So if you need to get your dog’s attention, especially as they get older, make sure to use bold yellow or blue toys, signs, or visual cues. I‘ve even heard of dog trainers even wearing blue lipstick or wearing a yellow shirt to help dogs focus.

And while it’s normal for dogs to have slightly poor eyesight, keep in mind that if they’re always bumping into things, having trouble finding you, getting lost around their home, it could be more than that. As our dogs get older they can get lenticular sclerosis, but they can also get canine cognitive dementia, cataracts, glaucoma, and other issues – so don’t hesitate to ask your vet if something’s amiss.

Lindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You’ll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.

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