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Could Your Dog Have Pannus? What to Look for and How to Treat it.

If you’ve talked to us on the phone or run into us out in the dog world, you probably already know our boy Tuckerman was diagnosed with pannus four years ago. We were heartbroken over the thought of leaving him inside, and we figured there had to be something we could do to protect his eyes, and – long story short – Rex Specs was born. After developing a product that dramatically improved Tuck's day-to-day situation, it’s been a passion of ours to help other dog owners not let pannus take its toll on a loyal companion’s quality of life.

So first of all, what is pannus? Pannus (Chronic Superficial Keratitis) is an immune system condition that occurs as a result of ultraviolet (UV) light damage to the side of the cornea – the clear part of the eye – that triggers the body to attempt to repair the damage by sending small blood vessels into the layers of the cornea. Since the cornea doesn’t normally have blood vessels, the dog’s immune system assumes they may be harmful to the body, so the subsequent immune system reaction is to attempt to destroy the corneal tissues. 

What all this science talk means is that without treatment, scar tissue begins to develop, and that can ultimately lead to severe visual impairment and blindness.

Pannus is most often found in German shepherds, Border Collies, Huskies, Australian shepherds, Long-Haired dachshunds and Greyhounds, but it can be found in any breed – especially in dogs who live and exercise at higher elevations.


Dr. Steve Roberts, a veterinary ophthalmologist based in Loveland, Colorado, who treats over 700 dogs every month for eye conditions, says the first thing to look for is “cloudiness on the very lateral edge of the cornea, and not only is it cloudy gray, but there’s also little tiny blood vessels in it.” If you look directly at a dog’s face, these early symptoms will show at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock position on the outside of the dogs eye.

Pannus example (Wikipedia) Example signs of pannus (from Wikipedia)

Sadly, there’s no cure for pannus – but the good news is that it’s a treatable disease. Vets most commonly prescribe eye drops, such as dexamethasone, prednisolone, or cyclosporine, to treat it. The earlier you catch this condition, the less chance there is for scar tissue or severe impairment to occur.


In addition to the eye drops, reducing your dog's exposure to UV rays is the most important factor. Dr. Roberts sees a direct connection between pannus severity and the amount of UV light dogs are exposed to each day, especially during summertime. In the winter, he sees an average of 2-4 cases of pannus each month, but between the end of May and September he treats 6-8 cases every week. “Where I’m at in Colorado, the elevation is over 5,000 feet, and a lot of the dogs I deal with are up on the weekends at 7,000-10,000 feet,” he said. “So that has a huge impact, and their treatment can be really difficult to manage. I’ve had people relocate to much lower elevations, and the pannus that was hard to control in Colorado is now very easy to control at elevations less than 1,000 feet."

  Tuck enjoying life above 9,000 feet on a recent hike.

Unfortunately, for so many of us, we can’t imagine relocating away from the mountains that we (and our dogs) love so much. The other option Dr. Roberts and many other vets are now recommending for reducing exposure to UV rays to keep pannus contained is to get your dog in a pair of Rex Specs.


Rex Specs are not a substitute for the eye drops, but the lenses are rated UV400 to provide protection from 99-100% UVA/UVB rays to keep the condition from getting worse. We’ve personally seen great success in getting Tuck’s pannus under control by having him in Rex Specs when we're outside. Now we’re on a mission to make sure every dog owner knows the signs of pannus and how to best manage it, and we’d love for you to help us spread the word so all of us can enjoy life to its fullest with our best buds.

Tuck happy and healthy living an outdoor life!

Pannus isn't the only eye condition that warrants the use of eye protection. Exposure to UV rays, especially during summer months, can cause some dog's eyes to sunburn or be more sensitive to the sun. Rex Specs lenses are all UV protected, so you can rest safe when using them. To read another interview by two of our ambassadors who ventures out hiking often with their dog, take a look at this blog post.

If you're looking to find out more about pannus, here's a few starting points:

Does your dog have pannus? Tell us your story below!


 Photos: Drew Smith


  • Laura on

    I bet CBD oil made from hemp would help slow the progression of this condition as it inhibits angiogenesis.

  • Melisa Galindo on

    I am heartbroken my one year old GS Lola has Pannus. It appeared two weeks ago and is progressively getting worse by the day. I feel like she is too young to have this yet here we are, lifetime of steroids for her. Can’t afford Rex Specs right now, hope to get her a pair soon.

  • Cheri on

    My 5 year old Shepard/Collie/Husky cross has just been diagnosed with Pannus & I’m am heartbroken. The vet has prescribed life long drops for him that I am supposed to give twice a day but I cannot get into his eye for the life of me! We have tried EVERYTHING! And I mean everything! I sees that white bottle & thats it. I’ve been trying to train him to get used to the bottle coming near his face but its not working. He loves being outside & playing with his cousins, and summer, we’re outside constantly!
    I’m scared to purchased goggles as I think that he will fight for his life to get those off as well…..does anyone have ANY ideas on how i can get drops in his eye?!?!

  • Rob on

    My white swiss shepherd (5 years old) was diagnosed yesterday. Needless to say that I am heart broken, whereas my boy is as happy as a 3 legged man in a bum kicking competition. He is inside and loving the lounges, my chair, the leather lounge, the spare bed I caught him in yesterday. It just goes on.

    He was prescribed drops called Maxidex. Have to fgive them to him 5 times a day for 2 weeks, then 3 times per day.

    I’ve had multiple spinal surgeries and cant walk him. Ive been paying a dog walker for the last 5 years who also takes him to my local beach. So, from now on, he will have to wear some sort of eye protection and I will change the times that he gets walked (i.e. early morning or late afternoon, when UV light isnt so high).

    I have purchased another brand of eye wear but, I will order the Rex to see if he responds better to wearing these. He isnt happy with the other type.

    If anyone has any ideas on better treatment (anything natural available to help treat his eyes?), please let me know.

    My best regards to all and I hope that your best buddy is doing ok!!!

  • Haley Plemons on

    I have an older working line gsd that I rescued six months ago. He was in terrible condition when I got him and the vet I take him to hasn’t been the best. He does have a lump over one of his eyes that seems to be scar tissue and when I got him he had awful greenish eye discharge. The vet just charged me for some antibiotic eye drops that did help, but once she told me to stop using them the discharge came back, just not in an alarming green color. Reading this article, I’m starting to think that the eye issue isn’t an irritated eye like the vet wanted label it as but is instead Pannus since my dog also has cloudy eyes. His previous owners kept him tied to a tree constantly so UV damage to his eyes doesn’t sound impossible.
    Thanks for posting this! I’ve been looking at Rex Specs as an option since my dog is trained as my psychiatric service dog and I’ve seen other articles about how Rex Specs have helped vision impaired sporting dogs. Definitely going to put these on my wish list and talk to my vet about the possibility of Pannus.


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How To Measure

Measure the circumference of your dog's muzzle where you expect the goggle to land on their nose - usually around the back of their mouth.

Measure the head circumference where you expect the goggle to land on the forehead - typically an inch or so behind the eyes.