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What is SARDs? – Sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDs) is an auto-immune disease, which is characterized by a sudden onset of blindness in dogs. This disease usually develops in middle-aged dogs with a previous history of auto-immune diseases. There has not been established relationship between the SARDs and cancer presence as a possible cause of this disease.
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Are SARDs and IMR dangerous for the general health of my pet? – SARDs and IMR are autoimmune diseases, which can frequently cause kidney damage (proteinuria, microalbuminuria, membranous glomerulonephritis), low level of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism), liver function abnormalities (elevation of liver enzymes, increased sensitivity to systemic steroid therapy), high blood pressure (systemic hypertension), pseudo-Cushing’s disease symptoms (excessive thirst and urination, excessive appetite and weight gain) and neurological symptoms (loss of vision, hearing, smell sensation, ataxia, depression, lethargy, change in mentation). These changes can be dangerous to the overall health of affected dogs. A detailed evaluation of the systemic organ status is highly recommended for these patients, even if no therapy for the possible vision restoration is planned.
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Are SARDs and IMR treatable diseases? – Over the last 5 years, our team had developed a completely novel diagnostic and treatment protocols for these diseases. We usually pursue systemic immunosuppressive therapy in combination with the systemic or intraocular intravenous immunoglobulin (IVI)g treatment with a goal of restoring some vision. In many patients, additional medical therapy is recommended to address possible abnormalities associated with function of different organs (kidneys, liver, endocrine glands, brain, etc.). We give the maximum effort to carefully taylor medical treatment for each patient with a goal of minimizing any possible side effects, and maximally increasing the chance for the successful treatment outcome.
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What is the success rate for the SARDs and IMR treatment?

Early SARDs and IMR: Dogs with early symptoms of SARDs and IMR (near normal or normal day vision, subtle night vision deficits, abnormal pupil light reflex responses) have almost 80% response to therapy in terms of the long-term vision preservation.

Advanced SARDs and IMR: Dogs with advanced SARDs and IMR (near complete or complete vision loss) usually have 30-40% of the positive response to therapy and preservation of vision navigation skills for more than 1 year after initiating the treatment.

Very advanced SARDs and IMR : Dogs with very advanced SARDs and IMR (blindness in a duration of more than 3 months, advanced retinal degenerative changes characterized by diffuse tapetal hyper-reflectivity) do not respond well to medical therapy for the vision restoration. However, many of these patients may have other systemic organ problems, and these problems should be properly addressed to secure the long-term health of these patients.
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What diagnostic tests are usually performed before pursuing potential treatment for SARDs and IMR?
We usually recommend following tests to be performed in each SARDs/IMR patient:

-    Complete cell blood count

-    Serum chemistry (including T4 and TSH levels

-    Urine analysis (including urine microalbumin levels)

-    Blood pressure evaluation

-    Thoracic and abdominal radiographs

-    General and ophthalmology examination

-    Visual maze testing in dim and bright light conditions

-    Chromatic pupil light reflex testing and electroretinography (ERG) testing

For more information on SARDs and IMR please click here.