Night Blindness Found in Dogs Too

The Penn Vet team with Mie University's Mineo Kondo (far right).

The Penn Vet team with Mie University’s Mineo Kondo (far right).

Night blindness found humans is not confined to them alone but also dogs too can get affected with a form of night blindness, said researchers, which included an Indian-origin scientist.

Known as Congenital Stationary Night Blindness (CSNB), those who have normal vision during the daytime can’t find objects in the night and it varies from person to person depending on the light in a room or in the open.

Usually a hereditary disease from the birth, it has severe impact on night quality of life in outside locations. While the night blindness is often made into comedies in fims, now researchers have found that even dogs, man’s faithful animals, too have the disease.

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania in the US, which included Gautami Das, a postdoctoral researcher who is collaborating with Japanese scientists on the subject found out about a unique population of beagles with night-vision problems.

The Japanese investigators first evaluated the dogs’ pedigree to to learn how it was inherited and found that it was an autosomal recessive disease, which means a dog needs two copies of the mutated gene in order to be affected. This process also allowed the scientists to see which of the dogs was a carrier for the disease.

Mineo Kondo, a professor and chair of ophthalmology at Mie University Graduate School of Medicine in Tsu, Japan reached out to Aguirre’s research group to delve deeper into the molecular underpinnings of the disease and to attempt to find a genetic cause.

The dogs, which have been bred by a Japanese pharmaceutical firm showed similar behaviour as those of humans with the night blindness. “In bright light they can walk around and navigate easily, but in darkness they sort of freeze,” said researcher Gustavo Aguirre.

The abnormality is significant in a type known as Schubert-Bornschein. However, the gene responsible for these dogs’ condition remains a mystery, heralding a new genome sequencing required to determine the gene soon.

The findings have been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Besides Goutami Das, the team included Keiko Miyadera, an assistant professor of ophthalmology; and Gustavo Aguirre, professor of medical genetics and ophthalmology. Their main collaborator was Mineo Kondo from whom they came to now about a unique population of beagles with night-vision problems.

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