SARDS, also known as Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome, is a sudden onset blindness of unknown cause. It affects mostly middle aged, spayed female dogs. Many different breeds have been described with the disease. Despite the disease being known about for over 30 years, the underlying cause is not understood, and no treatment has been definitively proven to be effective. Dogs remain permanently blind.
Mowat Lab Grants for SARDS research
Dr. Mowat and her lab have received grants from the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists Vision for Animals Foundation to study the underlying causes of SARDS and to perform a pilot treatment trial for SARDS. Our work continues to be funded through these funds and through generous donations to our work.
What does the Mowat Lab do to study SARDS?
Our lab has recruited clinical cases of SARDS from client-owned dogs presenting to the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. We have recruited not only dogs with SARDS, but as controls we recruited normal dogs and dogs with Pituitary-dependent Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease). We have completed enrollment, and have published one manuscript on our findings (link to abstracthere), with at least 2 more manuscripts currently in preparation.
The ultimate goals of our research are: 1. To develop ways of diagnosing SARDS earlier, in order to catch patients at a stage of disease before permanent blindness is inevitable. 2. To better understand the pathways of disease, in order to develop specific and effective treatments and carefully define their benefits and risks. 3. With our funding for a pilot SARDS treatment trial, we have evaluated an immunomodulatory drug for the treatment of SARDS in dogs. 4. To gather information on previous SARDS cases from dog owners to inform our future studies through the use of an online questionnaire. Link to questionnaire here
How can you get involved?
1. If your dog has been diagnosed with SARDS at any time in the past, please take the time to fill out our questionnaire: goo.gl/forms/Zi171JNSO8LatCgn2
2. We are recruiting recently diagnosed dogs into a clinical study of SARDS. Your dog MUST have gone blind within the last month, and MUST have visited an ophthalmologist to confirm the diagnosis (we will verify this using your dog's medical record information). Your dog also must NOT have recently received any oral immunosuppressive medication (e.g. steroids) and must not currently have any issues with blood clotting (e.g. thrombocytopenia, anemia or clotting abnormalities). You must be available to bring your dog for a morning appointment (lasting 1-2 hours) at North Carolina State University Veterinary Hospital.
3. If your dog had blood or urine tests (e.g. serum chemistry, complete blood count, urinalysis) performed BOTH BEFORE and AFTER diagnosis of SARDS (at any time in the past), please email us the results and answer the following questions (cut and paste into the body of the email): 1. What breed is your dog 2. What sex is your dog 3. What is your dog's date of birth 4. What was the approximate date of blindness onset (NOT the date that your vet diagnosed the disease) 5. State whether you visited an ophthalmologist for diagnosis and if your dog had an electroretinogram (ERG) for diagnosis 6. The contact name and telephone number of your ophthalmologist 7. The contact name and telephone number of your regular veterinarian By emailing us, you consent for us to have full access to this information and potentially use it in publications or presentations. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. If you wish to make a donation to Dr. Mowat's research, please visit this link: make a donation. Please select in the Choose a fund option, the "Retinal Research Fund"