Pannus (chronic superficial keratitis)
Pannus is a progressive, degenerative disease of the transparent front of the eyeball (cornea). It affects primarily German Shepherds, but may also affect other breeds. As the disease progresses, blood vessels, pigment and scar tissue become incorporated into the outer layers of the cornea. If the disease continues, the cornea loses its transparency and blindness may result.
The cause of pannus is not well understood. Pannus appears to result from an allergic reaction in which the body does not recognize its own corneal cells and attacks them. Excessive sun exposure may be one cause, but this has not been proven.
Pannus tends to occur in certain families; therefore the disease could be inherited. This is also unproven.
Treatment usually results in control of the disease rather than a complete cure. Therefore, a commitment to long-term treatment, possibly for life, is necessary to preserve your pet’s vision. Fortunately, in most cases vision can be preserved. The initial treatment of pannus is often intense, but if the response is good, continued treatment can be made more practical. Certain cases require surgery which may need to be repeated at various intervals.