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
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