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Ocular Melanosis


(Formerly referred to as Pigmentary Glaucoma.)

Awareness of this condition in the United States is a fairly recent thing, as the   first known cases were diagnosed in 1984. It is an inherited condition that occurs   predominantly in Cairns, although there are some unconfirmed reports of a similar   condition in other breeds. The condition generally affects both eyes. Onset of the   more obvious changes is between 7 to 12 years of age, which make this a vital time to   closely watch each eye for small spots or patches of very dark pigmentation within   the sclera (white part of the eye). Visits to the veterinarian when Cairns are this   age should include an examination of the anterior chambers of the eyes for pigment   deposits as well. The pigment deposits accumulate and decrease the eyes’ ability to   drain fluid out of the anterior chamber. This fluid accumulation leads to an increase   in pressure in the eye which is known as a secondary glaucoma. If the elevated   pressure goes undiagnosed and/or untreated, the dog will not only go blind but also   suffer from pain, because an increased pressure in the eye can be very painful.   Because of this, it is often required to remove the eye due to pain caused by   pressure build up.If caught early, the damage that glaucoma causes can be slowed, and   vision maintained longer by use of medications. It is important that all Cairns be   checked regularly for the early signs of Ocular Melanosis (pigmented scleral patches   and thickened iris roots) especially those dogs who are related to dogs who have or,   who are suspected to have, Ocular Melanosis. This is also a condition that is part of   the GDC Registry.

If your Cairn is 7-12 years old, or has been diagnosed with Ocular Melanosis and   you would like more information on this disease, please contact Dr. Simon   Petersen-Jones at Michigan State University in East Lansing. He is collecting blood   samples and pedigrees of normal and affected dogs as well as organ donated eyes from   all Cairns. Please e-mail Dr. Petersen-Jones at He can also be contacted   through the Comparative Ophthalmology laboratory at MSU by telephone at (517)   353-3278.

OM update 2014

2013 OM Update and DNA Request

Research Reports: [4/2002] [4/2003] [10/2004] [05/2005a] [05/2005b] [08/2005] [11/2005] [1/2006] [1/2007] [Grant 903a] [Grant 1137]

Articles: Ocular melanosis in the Cairn Terrier: clinical description and investigation of mode of inheritance - Veterinary Ophthalmology (2007)

Downloadable Forms:
[Cairn Terrier Ocular Melanosis (OM) Eye Donation Registry]
[Ocular Melanosis (Pigmentary Glaucoma)]
[Blood Samples for Ocular Melanosis Research]
[Protocol For Sending Enucleated Eyes For Culture]
[Request For Reimbursement For Shipping Cost]