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Sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDS) – a review and proposed strategies toward a better understanding of pathogenesis, early diagnosis, and therapy

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Sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDS) is one of the leading causes of currently incurable canine vision loss diagnosed by veterinary ophthalmologists. The disease is characterized by acute onset of blindness due to loss of photoreceptor function, extinguished electroretinogram with an initially normal appearing ocular fundus, and mydriatic pupils which are slowly responsive to bright white light, unresponsive to red, but responsive to blue light stimulation. In addition to blindness, the majority of affected dogs also show systemic abnormalities suggestive of hyperadrenocorticism, such as polyphagia with resulting obesity, polyuria, polydipsia, and a subclinical hepatopathy. The pathogenesis of SARDS is unknown, but neuroendocrine and autoimmune mechanisms have been suggested. Therapies that target these disease pathways have been proposed to reverse or prevent further vision loss in SARDS-affected dogs, but these treatments are controversial. In November 2014, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists' Vision for Animals Foundation organized and funded a Think Tank to review the current knowledge and recently proposed ideas about disease mechanisms and treatment of SARDS. These panel discussions resulted in recommendations for future research strategies toward a better understanding of pathogenesis, early diagnosis, and potential therapy for this condition.

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