Clean Run - November 2017 - 28

The
Canine
Vision
Project
By Gina Day, O.D.
© clEaN RUN

Like most dog owners, I had thought my dog's vision would be pretty much the same as any other dog's. After all, he can see a ball
when I throw it, and comes when I call him from across a field. At an agility class, I overheard a conversation about a dog who "takes
off too early" and handlers discussing whether he could see the jump or maybe had poor depth perception. The question jolted
me into thinking about agility, my hobby, from a professional perspective as an optometrist who specializes in binocular vision.

The first phase of our project was to survey
the vision in 210 agility dogs to see what
kind of refractive errors and binocular vision skills were present, and determine if
there was a difference in the visual skills of
good jumpers versus poor jumping dogs.
Clearly there was. Results showed that
dogs with jumping problems tended to
have more myopia and astigmatism than
normal jumpers. Dogs with unilateral
strabsimus (eye turn predominantly in one
eye, either crossing in or going out) had
the highest incidence of jumping problems (80%). Our findings demonstrate
that vision does affect jumping, and many
of the dogs with jumping problems have

either myopia, astigmatism, or weak binocular vision. However, it is important to
note that not all dogs with refractive errors
had a jumping problem and many dogs
with myopia, astigmatism, and alternating strabismus (when the eyes alternately
turn, not constant in one eye) have normal jumping ability. Vision is one of many
factors that affect jumping, and there are
likely other visual skills that we currently
do not know how to test, such as speed
of visual processing or response time.
We are currently working on a longitudinal study, a.k.a. "the puppy study." Our
plan is to test agility puppies under the age
of six months, and then annually monitor
changes in their refraction and binocular
vision as they mature. It will be interesting to see how refractive error and strabismus could change over the life of the
dog. Anecdotally, dogs with early takeoffs
get worse with age, and we also know that
myopia tends to worsen with age due to
changes in the lens (cataracts). As in our
survey study, most studies of canine vision have only measured the dog once.
Longitudinally we may be able to correlate changes in vision with jumping performance. The first group of dogs in the

longitudinal study is approaching their
second birthday and we anticipate having
enough data to report by late 2018.
Early takeoffs are frustrating for the
handler, and potentially demotivating
or unsafe for the dog. By understanding
a dog's vision, an owner can modify their
handling to cue the dog for the best approach on course. Since myopia and
strabismus are risk factors for jumping,
retinoscopy and binocular vision testing
can be very useful in selecting a puppy as
an agility prospect. Retinoscopy and binocular vision is tested by optometrists and
measures functional vision. Eye health
testing is different, and we do recommend
that dogs with jumping problems also be
evaluated by a veterinarian to rule out eye
health issues.
The goal of our research is to help agility
dogs be safe and happy on course. D
cOURTEsY OF giNa daY, O.d.

Conversations with my agility instructor,
Lauri Plummer, and her instructor, Nancy Gyes, led us to try to figure out if dogs
with jumping issues have a vision problem. My good friend and collaborator on
a previous research project, Dr. Maureen
Powers, is a retired professor in neuroscience. Maureen has studied and published
extensively about vision in various animals from goldfish to humans. Together
we decided on a testing protocol, mostly
based on modifications to testing used
with human infants and toddlers.

Gina Day, O.D. is an optometrist in private practice in the San Francisco Bay area.  She is a fellow of the College
of Optometrists in Vision Development and specializes in vision therapy for amblyopia, strabismus, and visionrelated learning disorders. Gina has been competing in agility for 16 years, first with Miniature Pinschers and
currently with her Border Collie and her Cattle Dog.
28

Clean Run | November 17



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - November 2017

Contents
Clean Run - November 2017 - Cover1
Clean Run - November 2017 - Cover2
Clean Run - November 2017 - Contents
Clean Run - November 2017 - 4
Clean Run - November 2017 - 5
Clean Run - November 2017 - 6
Clean Run - November 2017 - 7
Clean Run - November 2017 - 8
Clean Run - November 2017 - 9
Clean Run - November 2017 - 10
Clean Run - November 2017 - 11
Clean Run - November 2017 - 12
Clean Run - November 2017 - 13
Clean Run - November 2017 - 14
Clean Run - November 2017 - 15
Clean Run - November 2017 - 16
Clean Run - November 2017 - 17
Clean Run - November 2017 - 18
Clean Run - November 2017 - 19
Clean Run - November 2017 - 20
Clean Run - November 2017 - 21
Clean Run - November 2017 - 22
Clean Run - November 2017 - 23
Clean Run - November 2017 - 24
Clean Run - November 2017 - 25
Clean Run - November 2017 - 26
Clean Run - November 2017 - 27
Clean Run - November 2017 - 28
Clean Run - November 2017 - 29
Clean Run - November 2017 - 30
Clean Run - November 2017 - 31
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Clean Run - November 2017 - 33
Clean Run - November 2017 - 34
Clean Run - November 2017 - 35
Clean Run - November 2017 - 36
Clean Run - November 2017 - 37
Clean Run - November 2017 - 38
Clean Run - November 2017 - 39
Clean Run - November 2017 - 40
Clean Run - November 2017 - 41
Clean Run - November 2017 - 42
Clean Run - November 2017 - 43
Clean Run - November 2017 - 44
Clean Run - November 2017 - 45
Clean Run - November 2017 - 46
Clean Run - November 2017 - 47
Clean Run - November 2017 - 48
Clean Run - November 2017 - 49
Clean Run - November 2017 - 50
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Clean Run - November 2017 - 62
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Clean Run - November 2017 - Cover3
Clean Run - November 2017 - Cover4
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