Progressive Retinal Atrophy Resource Center

In October 2008, when he was almost 2 years old, Trevor was given a routine Optigen screening for PRA. PRA (progressive retinal atrophy) is a genetically transmitted disease that leads to blindness. Even though PRA is extremely rare in Golden Retrievers, Trevor was found to be "affected" with prcd-PRA.

From the Optigen website:

PRA refers to a group of diseases that cause the retina of the eye to degenerate slowly over time. The result is declining vision and eventual blindness. “prcd” stands for “progressive rod-cone degeneration” which is the type of PRA known in several breeds.

Trevor had no symptoms, so to confirm his "affected" status, his opthamologist did an ERG test. An ERG test can find physical signs of PRA years before it's detectable by any other means. The test confirmed Trevor's "affected" status. To date his CERF is clear.

See PRA Research for a desciption of the research I've done, as well as links to scientific research.

Trevor's Supplement Regime

Find out more about what I'm doing for Trevor in Trevor's Supplement Regime.

Does PRA Always Mean Blindness?

People often ask me what an "affected" status means--does it mean that the dog MIGHT go blind, or that the dog WILL go blind? The answer is that the dog WILL go blind. The question is when. In most  breeds that have PRA, the likely course of the disease is known. But this is not the case with Goldens. So far there is only one known mature Golden with prcd-PRA, Daphne (I have met her since she lives near my dad, and she is a wonderful dog). At over 8 years of age, Daphne is losing her night vision, but she still has decent day vision. But no one knows if Daphne is typical for the breed, or if her very late onset is an anomaly.

Most people seem to think that prcd-PRA in Goldens is likely to be similar to prcd-PRA in labs. According to Wikipedia, the typical progression for labs is: "Night blindness by four to six years old, blind at six to eight years old. "

There is one caveat, and that is that PRA affects every individual differently. Even among littermates, the age of onset can vary by years, and the disease can progress at vastly different rates. No one knows why these variations occur.

General Information

Personal Stories

In presenting these stories, we stress that prcd-PRA was not officially discovered in Goldens until 2007. So no one would have suspected that the dogs involved in these breedings were carriers.

Once prcd-PRA was discovered in a Golden (see Daphne's Story), Gerry Clinchy and Mardi Closson worked with Optigen to get a prcd-PRA test for Golden Retrievers. Thanks to their efforts, Golden breeders now have the tool they need to keep this disease from spreading any further.
  • Daphne's Story -- Daphne was the first Golden Retriever in the US to be diagnosed with prcd-PRA.
  • Trevor -- Trevor was the first young, pre-symptomatic Golden in the US to have his Optigen prcd-PRA "affected" status confirmed by an ERG test. An ERG test can detect physical signs of PRA years before it is detectable by any other means.


Golden Retriever Genetic Databases

PRA Dogs on the Web

I use Google Alerts to send me daily summaries of articles about PRA and retinitis pigmentosa (a human disease that is similar to PRA). Through these alerts I've come across the stories of other dogs with PRA. I'm especially interested in the stories of performance dogs who have this disease.