Pit Bull Eye Problems

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Eye problems are not common in pit bulls.

Pit bull is a term used to describe various types of bull terriers. Certain breeds classified as pit bulls suffer from genetic eye problems. Other breeds do not inherently suffer from eye problems; however they can suffer from the same common ailments that any canine faces.

Pit Bull History

The term "pit bull" has become a generic term commonly used to describe bull terriers in general, though the proper usage of the name describes the pit bull terrier. The breed originated in England during the 19th century. It was originally used to bait bulls and bears alike. When that practice was deemed cruel, the breed was used in dog fights and rat pits. The pit bull terrier soon branched off into similar forms of the breed including the Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier and the American pit bull terrier.

Genetic Ailments

American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers are known to suffer from hereditary eye problems. Problems that plague the breed include distachiasis, or double eyelashes, hereditary cataracts and PHPV, or persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous. Distachiasis causes the eyelash to grow inwards, rubbing the eyelashes against the pit bull's eyes. PHPV causes failure in the blood supply to the eyes, leading to hazy vision in the dog. Cataracts cause the lenses behind the pupil to turn a cloudy white, eventually blinding the dog. Genetic tests performed by a veterinarian can determine whether a blood line carries the genetic defects that cause cataracts in pit bulls.

General Eye Problems

All three breeds of pit bull terriers are susceptible to general canine eye problems. Corneal ulcers, caused by ocular injury, form within the eye socket or the eye itself. Inflammation and irritation are typically caused when the eye is exposed to irritants such as dust and light chemicals.

Time Frame

When a pit bull's eyes begin showing signs of problems, it is important that action be taken immediately. Eye problems can progress rapidly and a treatable condition can quickly lead to a permanent disfigurement. For irritation, infection and corneal ulcers, the issue is treatable when caught in the early stages; left untreated, all three can cause blindness. Cataracts are usually not treatable, though a close watch should be kept on the dog to ensure that there is no underlying problem being disguised.


Treatment will typically involve a series of eye drops applied to the pit bull's eye several times throughout the day. In the case of irritation, a drop of almond oil or salt water will often rinse the irritant from the eye. In some instances the dog may require surgery to remedy the problem, after which special care must be taken to ensure the eye does not become infected.

Veterinary Care

If you suspect that your pit bull is experiencing eye problems you should take him to the veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. While irritation or inflammation is often the culprit, if the condition persists for more than a day it could be a sign of a serious issue. When not treated, eye problems have the potential to impair the pit bull's vision, up to and including blindness. According to Organic Pet Digest, eye problems can have serious consequences if left untreated.