Retinal detachment is usually diagnosed when a dog’s owner notices that her pet is having vision problems, and then brings the dog to its veterinarian for an evaluation.
A dog’s treating veterinarian will perform a physical examination and take a complete history from the owner of a dog presenting with what appears to be vision impairment. If the condition merits further diagnostics, most general practitioners will refer the owner to a skilled veterinary eye specialist (ophthalmologist) for a thorough ophthalmic examination, which is extremely important when a dog develops obvious vision deficiencies, whether they come on slowly (are chronic) or suddenly (are acute). Veterinary ophthalmologists have many diagnostic instruments and tests at their disposal to localize the cause of the dog’s disorder. These may include ocular ultrasound and microscopic evaluation of biopsy eye tissue samples, if the eye needs to be removed (enucleated) due to blindness and pain resulting from retinal detachment.
The signs of retinal detachment often mimic the signs of retinal degeneration. Although these are completely separate disorders, the symptoms are basically the same, and owners of affected dogs will essentially notice vision deficiencies in their pets.