PRA in Glens
part I

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Although it had most certainly existed in our breed long ago, Progressive Retinal Atrophy was first diagnosed in Glen of Imaal Terriers in the summer of 1996. PRA is an inherited eye disease, affected dogs to go blind.  There are many different forms of PRA; for some of these the genetic cause has been identified and tests are available to help breeders to prevent affected pups being produced and eliminate the disease from their breed. For many other forms of PRA, however, the genetic cause is unknown, and there is no known cure.
Dogs often adapt to gradual onset of blindness with only subtle symptoms; yearly examination by a veterinary ophthalmologist is the best way to detect affected Glens.

Maura High of the Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of America convinced world-renowned canine eye researcher and geneticist Dr. Gregory Acland of Cornell University to study PRA in Glens. Dr. Acland and his team have been working on this problem for us ever since. As special and unique (and stubborn) as our breed is, so is their form of PRA. In Glens, PRA is late onset, with disease first detectable by ophthalmologic examination usually between the ages of 3 and 7. Over the years many owners around the world have diligently had their Glens eyes tested, shared the results with the Glen international database, and submitted blood samples for research.

In the USA this research is being carried out by Cornell University and University of Pennsylvania, and we are making slow but steady progress toward our goal of developing a blood test for Glens for early detection of a dog's genetic PRA status. Pet owners' willingness to have their dogs tested has greatly boosted this effort. Since the PRA affecting Glens is late onset, such a blood test is crucial to breeders' ability to manage their breeding programs.  I also strongly recommend that owners of promising stud dogs have their dog's semen frozen and stored at an early age (when chances of success are best); to be held as an insurance policy for the breed's genetic diversity.

For the 2007 update on Glen of Imaal Terrier PRA research, visit the Glen Gathering update page.  http://www.briarhillglen.com/gathering_202007.htm

For the 2004 report, see my article hosted on my site as it originally appeared when published on the Glen of Imaal Terrier Club website.

Feel free to contact Maura High, the Chairperson of the  PRA Health Committee of the
Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of America.
Maura can direct you to the appropriate resources in your country.

Ara Lynn
Updated April 14, 2008

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