My Dog Has a Dark Spot in One Eye
Except in cases of true albinism, dogs' irises - the colored part of the eye - range in color from pale blue to dark brown. However, variations in development before a puppy is born can cause color variations within the iris resulting in multiple colors within one eye. Normal variations usually appear as wedge-shaped, streaks, or bursts of a different color within an iris, such as a streak of brown in a blue eye. Abnormal pigment can often be easily identified and is not always dangerous.
What to Look For
You likely don't have to get too close to your dog to see an unusual spot in one or both of her eyes. Simply take a look at both of her eyes and note where the pigment is and what shape it is.
Next, you want to see if the pigment is fixed or moves around. Observe your dog first while she is standing looking directly at you. Note the location of the area of pigment. Next, place your dog on her side and again note the position of the pigment. Finally, place your dog on her back with her head on the ground and her throat facing the sky and examine the placement of the pigment. If the pigmented area is fixed, it will remain in the same location regardless of your dog's position. If it is a mass of some sort, its point of origin will remain fixed but its body may shift with your dog's position. (Think of a bean bag stapled to the face of a clock. The bag will tend to droop with the pull of gravity, toward the number six on the dial. If you then rotated the clock face so that another number was facing downward, the bag would droop toward it.)
What to Do
Now that you've gotten a good look at what's going on, ask yourself the following questions:
If the edges are rough, have it seen. If they are crisp and clean, monitor them closely for changes or until your next veterinary appointment.
When to Get the Vet
All intraocular, or implanted, masses should be evaluated by a veterinarian, preferably a veterinary ophthalmologist.
Text © 2007 by Robert D. "Jake" Tedaldi, D.V.M.