Pigmentary Uveitis in Golden Retrievers

Pigmentary uveitis, or Golden Retriever Uveitis (GRU), is a disease primarily seen in the Golden Retriever breed and does not appear to be associated with any systemic disease or infection. While this disease is presumed to be inherited, the cause remains unknown.

Uveitis is inflammation of the uveal tract, which is composed of the iris, ciliary body, and choroid (the vascular components inside the eye). The iris is the colored part of the eye, which is brown in most dogs, including Golden Retrievers. The ciliary body is the structure behind the iris that produces fluid in the eye. The choroid is a membrane of blood vessels that line the back of the eye and nourish the retina.

Clinical Signs

GRU is typically a bilateral progressive disease, however, only one eye can be affected initially. Early in the disease process, inflammation in the eye is usually very subtle and may not be evident by casual observation. Symptoms of uveitis include: squinting, increased tearing or discharge, redness, photophobia (light sensitivity), and cloudiness of the eye or eyes.

Pigmentation of the lens capsule in a radial or “spoke wheel” pattern is considered a hallmark of this disease. The iris can also become heavily pigmented and appear dark brown to black in color. Darkly pigmented iris cysts within the eye can be observed as an early sign of GRU. Iris cysts are small fluid- filled structures, which are either attached to the iris, ciliary body, or free floating inside the eye. These changes in the eye tend to get worse over time and can lead to cataract formation, glaucoma (high eye) and blindness.


Treatment for GRU is aimed at reducing inflammation in the eye and preventing or delaying the onset of glaucoma. The treatment protocol will vary for each individual patient, but may include an anti-inflammatory eye drop, an oral anti-inflammatory, an oral immunosuppressant and/ or medication to delay the onset or treat glaucoma. Routine blood work may be advised if systemic medications are being used in order to monitor for any side effects.


GRU is a chronic concern that will require long-term treatment. In some cases, inflammation is mild and easy to control, but many affected dogs eventually develop glaucoma. Glaucoma, which is painful and blinding, has been found to develop in 46 percent of dogs with Golden Retriever Uveitis. Long-term treatment and management are imperative in helping keep a comfortable, visual eye.

If you have any further questions or concerns regarding pigmentary uveitis, please do not hesitate to call us at Eye Care for Animals.

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