Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a name given to a broad group of eye diseases of similar character. It causes no pain or discomfort but leads to permanent blindness. The word atrophy means wasting away.

PRA develops after birth, and it has been determined in some breeds to be inherited from both parents. It affects the retina which lines the inner eye. The retina contains the light-sensitive rods and cones that change light into energy for transmitting messages to the brain. The retina is similar to the film in a camera – the image or picture is received on it.

PRA occurs in all breeds of dogs and cats. It appears earlier in some breeds and can take several years to cause complete blindness. An early sign of PRA is inability to see in dim light.

Due to PRA’s slow progress, most pets adapt very well to the gradual loss of sight. Many owners do not realize their pet is becoming blind. Animals compensate well for blindness, and their other senses are much more acute than those of people.

There is no treatment available, and complete blindness will eventually result. PRA is eliminated through selective breeding of animals with normal eyes.