Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration (SARDS): Page 2 of 2

Treatment and Prognosis

Unfortunately, research efforts have not revealed a definitive treatment to regain vision nor has a preventative treatment been identified. Some SARDS patients will have secondary uveitis or episcleritis and may need to be treated with anti-inflammatory ophthalmic mediations. This, however, is uncommon. 

Early test results in people with specific retinal diseases have suggested that some retinal disease might be improved by treating with trace minerals and/or vitamins. Zinc supplementation has become an important method of treatment in human patients with age-related retinal degeneration.

Vitamins A, E, and lutein have been identified as important components in canine retinal metabolism. In the near future, supplementation with trace minerals (zinc and others) and vitamins (A and E) may become recommended treatments for SARDS and other retinal degenerations (e.g., progressive retinal atrophy).

Because pets with SARDS have rapid vision loss, adjustment to their home environment takes several weeks. Dogs' strong sense of smell, memory, and hearing are important during their adaptive period.

Certainly there is a period of confusion and frustration, but most return to being relaxed and "normal" after this adjustment period. In time, patients can maintain a normal and healthy life. As well, SARDS does not cause discomfort or pain, making a patient’s adjustment to blindness easier and ensuring that a good quality of life can be maintained. In rare cases, a pet will become aggressive or have a significant personality change. The most important thing is to be patient. Your dog will memorize its surroundings and will get along well in familiar territory.

Precautions will need to be taken if the surroundings include a swimming pool or an open roadside as a non-seeing dog may fall into a pool or venture onto a road. Some pets may need a diet change as their activity level may decrease. If signs of low activity, weight gain, and increase in thirst or urination persist, further testing by your veterinarian or referral to a veterinary specialist may be recommended.