A blind dog has made a “miracle” recovery and regained her sight after being blind for three months.
Roxy, a seven-year-old Giant Schnauzer, began to lose her sight after her immune system attacked her eyes, causing her retinas to become detached and severely inflamed.
Within days her sight dramatically deteriorated, leaving her anxious as she bumped into furniture and lamp posts-even once walking off a sea wall.
Erica, 58, and John, 60, from Cromer, Norfolk, did everything to make her comfortable-including bubble-wrapping their furniture-and were astonished when a pioneering treatment began to cure her.
“We were thrilled: The dogs are part of our family and we couldn’t be ourselves without them, every day is a bonus”, said John.
Fun-loving Roxy bounded into the couple’s life when she was four years old but in March this year when she was just seven years old her sight started to quickly deteriorate.
From being an energetic dog who loved chasing rabbits in the park, she became quiet and anxious.
The vet initially thought it was an eye infection but her condition continued to get worse.
The ophthalmologist, Renata Stavinohova, at the Animal Health Trust near Newmarket, confirmed the couple’s worst fears, Roxy was blind.
She was given a course of steroids and eye drops to try and stop the immune response that was attacking her eyes.
The couple used an old door with carpet runners to make a ramp into the car so she could still get taken off for walks and live as normal a life as possible.
The steroids made Roxy’s coat fall out and her muscles started to waste away.
After two and a half months with no improvement, the vets at the Animal Health Trust put her on immunosuppressive drugs.
They told the couple not to get their hopes up because they thought the chance of success was small.
James Oliver, head of Ophthalmology at the Animal Health Trust, said that the condition is rare and in his 14 years as a vet he has only seen four or five cases.
Although vets do not know why the immune system attacks the eyes it could be trigged by an infection which the immune system reacts inappropriately to.
Dr Oliver said this was the first case he had seen in a Giant Schnauzer.
The first sign that Roxy had beaten the odds was when she started barking at someone on a walk: “We were jumping for joy-he was looking very worried and definitely didn’t expect us to respond like that!” said John.
John, a retired senior lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University and Erica, a reflexologist, were astonished and delighted that she was responding to the medication.
“The smile on our vet’s face was unbelievable. She said it was a miracle”
“We’re so thrilled to have our Roxy back again– we’ll do whatever it takes to maintain the family.
“Now when she’s at the vets Roxy will only hold still if she’s given a biscuit and she’ll let them have 30 seconds to look in her eye before she moves her head, and then she needs another biscuit… She’s returned to her boisterous, mischievous self”, John said.
Fortunately the couple took out premier insurance which meant they could pay for this specialist treatment which gave them £8,000 to deal with the condition.
However, Roxy’s medication is still costing the couple £690 for every six weeks, which is no longer covered by the insurance: “That’s the children’s’ inheritance going!” he said.
The condition has been documented since at least 1980 but it does not have an official name: “Steroid-responsive retinal detachment was suggested as an appropriate name as the condition tends to respond to steroids.
“However, I prefer the term ‘immune-mediated retinal detachment’ as we know that not all cases (like Roxy) respond to steroids!” said Dr Oliver.
Roxy did not respond to the steroid (prednisolone) and so Dr Oliver and his team added in another drug called ciclosporin and weaned her off the steroids.
“Roxy was very lucky to have such a loving family who were prepared to adapt their home and lifestyle to care for her”, said Jessie Brooks from Animal Friends.
“We are so happy that Roxy’s condition improved, and that this story had such a happy ending” she said.