Hereditary Cataract

The LRCGB have contributed samples to several research projects over the years. One such was in the Spring of 2010 when we supplied twenty control blood samples to a project at Hanover starting research  into inherited cataract. Cataract (normally bi lateral in cases associated with Lagotto) is fairly widespread in the gene pool of Lagotto most notably in Scandinavia and other Northern European countries.

To find the latest update (January 2015) on the German Research project initiated by Eva Fauth please click here: Cataract Report 2015

In the UK, only one case of cataract has ever been reported to the LRCGB Health Committee. This was a unilateral  cataract, not the type which causes early blindness in Lagotto. It was doubly unusual as it appeared literally overnight in a heavily pregnant bitch. She was taken to see the world renowned eye specialist Professor Peter Bedford who diagnosed a very rare type only ever previously reported in American Cocker Spaniels. Little investigation could be done until after the pregnancy. The bitch had a normal litter; suffered no apparent discomfort and by the  time the pups were weaned and ready to go to new homes the cataract had disappeared as quickly as it had come.  She was never bred from again and the cataract never reappeared even in old age. None of her offspring ever developed the disease.  As it happens I had seen her Italian grandmother some years before in Italy and had made a mental note that it was probable that she was partly American Cocker. This was back at a time when the Lagotto was still being rescued from near extinction and bloodlines "purified"  by the dedicated Italian breeders who took on this mammoth task.  The grandmother was a first generation registered Lagotto (1993) so no recorded pedigree exists before that date.

I have never heard of any other similar cases so if anyone reading this knows of another case I would be interested to have details.

Note LRCGB breeders are required to eye test all breeding stock. It is an annual examination and dogs must have a current eye certificate at the time of mating. In the UK we do not have a problem with inherited cataract, however every new import particularly from Northern European countries may bring cataract into our gene pool. Therefore it is vitally important that any new cases are reported to the Health sub Committee.

Puppy buyers remember only buy a puppy from parents with current eye certification.

Gael Stenton
Chairman Lagotto Romagnolo Health sub Committee. January 2015


More about Cataracts...

We are grateful to Dr. Fredrika Ronquist (of the Swedish Lagotto Club) for notifying the LRCGB that several cataracts have been diagnosed in Swedish born Lagotto. The cataract diagnosed is total cataract in one eye, posterior cortical cataract in the other. Cataract is opacity of the lens or lens capsule and it may affect all or part of the lens and one or both eyes. Cataracts may be primary (where the condition is probably inherited) or secondary e.g. the cataract occurs as a result of inflammation; metabolic disease; congenital anomalies; trauma. Some cataracts may be detected at an early age; others develop later, may occur in different part of the lens and may progress at different rates. The first Swedish Lagotto diagnosed was a four year old male champion and was already blind in one eye. This was very sad for his owner and breeder but also had implications for the Lagotto world internationally as his two Italian grandfathers are hugely influential. The LRCGB have decided that along with hip scoring, it is a requirement of breeding that dogs are screened regularly under a recognized Eye Scheme.

The most widely used scheme in the UK is the British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club/International Sheepdog Society Eye Scheme. Screening is carried out by an appointed specialist eye panellist and the examination usually takes about five minutes. Most dogs are tested at a special eye testing clinics and the cost is usually about twenty pounds per test. Schedule 1 lists eye conditions where there is enough evidence to suggest that the conditions are inherited by the breeds listed. Schedule 3 lists eye conditions where the possibility of the condition being inherited by the breeds listed is currently being investigated. Breeds such as Lagotto where no known eye diseases exist are not listed on either schedule so results of their screening examinations are not published in the Kennel Gazette, neither do results appear on their offspring’s registration documents. Instead owners are given a copy of the screening results at the time of the examination. Records are kept by the BVA & KC and the status of breeds are regularly reviewed. As results are not published it is difficult to compile an accurate list of the Lagotto which have been screened by the BVA/KC. Before you buy a puppy ask about the eye status of both parents. Breeders should be able to supply a copy of the screening results for both parents.

So far one Lagotto in the UK has been found with a cataract but not the same type identified in Sweden. Our Lagotto was found to have a very rare type of unilateral (one eye only) cataract only found to date in American Cocker Spaniels. No other ocular anomalies have been found in Lagotto screened in the UK.

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