German Shepherd Eye Problems and Pannus

German Shepherds are a breed that can suffer from many diseases, and one of them is pannus. This is an immune system condition caused by ultraviolet light damage to one cornea side. Below you can learn more about this disease and how you can treat it in GSDs.

What Is Pannus?

What Is Pannus

As mentioned above, pannus is an autoimmune disease known as chronic superficial keratitis. This disease affects the cornea, and if not treated immediately, it can lead to blindness. According to experts, this disease is caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light levels.

Pannus is mostly seen in middle-aged German Shepherds and can worsen over time. This scar tissue and blood vessels can invade the cornea of ​​the eye. Some factors indicate that German Shepherds are more likely to suffer from this disease for the following reasons:

  • German Shepherd mixes and GSDs are more prone to pannus because of their genetic makeup.
  • Pannus is an autoimmune disease, which means that your German Shepherd’s immune system is abnormally attacking your dog’s conjunctiva instead of protecting and curing it.
  • German Shepherds living in contaminated areas may be more prone to pannus.
  • German Shepherd Dogs that live at high altitudes or near water bodies can suffer from more severe pannus because they are more exposed to UV rays.
  • German Shepherds ages 4-7 are more likely to develop pannus.
  • Middle-aged German Shepherds are more likely to suffer from pannus because they have a low immune system.

What Are The Symptoms Of Pannus In GSD?

What Are The Symptoms Of Pannus In GSD

Veterinarians claim that this disease begins at the edge of the eye, in the transparent part of the eye known as the cornea. This cornea corner’s edge turns a cloudy hue with tiny blood vessels visible that will cover the entire cornea. You should know that pannus disease is not painful. Among the most visible symptoms are:

  • Your German Shepherd will have bloodshot eyes
  • You will see the third eyelid swollen
  • Symmetrically cloudy pink mass on the cornea with visible blood vessels
  • You will see dark brown to black pigmentation of the cornea
  • Somewhat thick cloudiness on the cornea
  • Your German Shepherd will have watery eyes
  • You may notice small white spots around your German Shepherd’s eyes.

How To Treat GSD Pannus?

Treatment may often involve the use of topical corticosteroids and other immunomodulatory drugs. You should know that treatments do not cure the disease. They will only stop the progression and can reverse certain changes. Treatments to treat pannus in your German Shepherd include:

  • Beta Radiation

Pannus disease in the advanced stage usually does not respond to any treatment. One of the options that remain available is beta radiation. This treatment can decrease the cells and blood vessels of the cornea.

  • Eye Surgery

In severe pannus cases, eye surgery can remove all the superficial layer that forms on the cornea. With this surgery, the vet can improve your German Shepherd’s sight when she is already severely affected.

You should be aware that this procedure can only be performed once in the life of your German Shepherd. Unfortunately, there is a high chance that pannus disease may recur after surgery. Before considering this procedure, many factors should be considered with the vet.

  • Antibiotics

There are some pannus cases where German Shepherds have developed a secondary infection. In these types of cases, veterinarians should suggest administering antibiotics to treat the infection and prevent the bacterial eye infection from spreading.

  • Corticosteroid Injections

You can use corticosteroid injections to stop the progress of the pannus. In this procedure, the vet injects corticosteroids under the German Shepherd’s conjunctiva combined with topical eye medications. This process is generally done until the end of the life of your GSD.

 Corticosteroid injections indicate treatment for German Shepherds who are already nearly blind.

  • Topical Steroid-Based Medicine

If the vet diagnoses this disease early, he may recommend a topical steroid-based cream. Topical steroid-based medicine can help your German Shepherd reduce corneal, eyelid inflammation, and eye puffiness.

Many eye creams on the market have corticosteroids, but the most prescribed are prednisolone and dexamethasone.

  • Protective Sunglasses For Dogs

Goggles or sunglasses for dogs are an effective treatment for German Shepherds suffering from pannus. These goggles can reduce UV radiation in German Shepherd’s eyes. With this treatment, you can prevent pannus disease from progressing or getting worse.

  • Lifestyle Change

German Shepherds suffering from pannus should always avoid sunlight because they have harmful UV rays. If you want to prevent the disease from progressing, you should avoid sunlight. If you want to go for a walk with your GSD, avoid doing it in the morning, do your exercises when the sun goes down in the evenings. Dogs with this disease should be kept indoors, away from sunlight.

How To Care For Your German Shepherd’s Eyes?

If you want to take care of the eyes of your German Shepherd, you should follow the following tips:

  • Use saline solution

When you want to clean your German Shepherd’s eyes or eyelids, you should use saline solution. That way, you can remove eye secretions and scabs.

  • Wear protective glasses

You should let your dog wear ideal dog goggles when he wants to travel to prevent dust from getting into your German Shepherd’s eyes. Debris and other irritating dirt that can affect your dog’s vision can be prevented with these lenses.

  • Healthy diet

Use a healthy, balanced diet with your German Shepherd to be healthy and strong.

  • Be careful with the shampoo

Remember to be very careful with the shampoo, do not use it on your German Shepherd’s eyes.


You should be aware that many times eye irritations in German Shepherds can go away on their own, but others do not. You should pay attention to all the symptoms that your dog presents so that you can treat them as soon as possible.

It is always recommended that you take your German Shepherd to visit the vet from time to time to check your dog’s eye health. There is no cure for pannus disease, but some treatments and medications can prevent it from worsening.