Collie Eye

“Collie Eye” is a group of related eye problems seen primarily in Collies, Australian Sheperds, Border Collies, and Shetland Sheepdog (Shelties).  The problems, which affect the retina and the optic nerve, range from mild to severe.  These abnormalities are visible only with an ophthalmoscope.  Because Collie Eye is so widespread, many breeders have their puppies’ eyes checked at the age of six weeks.

Mildly affected dogs have small areas of the retina that appear pale because they did not develop properly.  The optic disc (the part of the optic nerve than can be seen using an ophthalmoscope) may be slightly misshapen.

Severely affected dogs have partially detached retinas or very small, undeveloped optic discs.  Partially detached retinas almost always become fully detachedover time, leaving the dog blind in that eye.  Severely undeveloped optic discs cause poor vision or blindness.  Collie eye can’t be cured or treated.


Adorable Sable Sheltie


Mild forms of Collie Eye do not become worse over time, and such dogs have normal or nearly normal vision.  They should not be used for breeding, however, because their offspring could have severe forms of the disease.

Collie Eye is not more common in dogs of a particular coat color or sex.  However, it is more challenging to diagnosie in Collies with blue eyes, often seen with a blue merle coat, because such dogs normally have paler retinas than dark-eyed collies do.  

A veterinary ophthalmologist can be called upon to distinguish between normal blue eyes and “Collie Eye” if there is any question about the diagnosis.

There’s no reason not to buy or adopt a puppy that has the mildest form of Collie Eye, because his vision shouldn’t be affected, but do neuter the puppy to avoid passing on the condition.

Please feel free to leave a comment, I will respond!


Betsy Brevitz, DVM

Shetland Sheepdog Puppies

2 thoughts on “Collie Eye”

  1. I grew up with a Sheltie, he was the gentlest most loving dog we ever had. He had the mild version of collie eye. Not a lot of people know about this condition. You have covered it thoroughly and it will be of great benefit to a lot of collie owners out there. Thank you for sharing such excellent information.

    • Thank you for your comments.  I have a Sheltie myself, he’s five years old.  Before I found out about it recently, I didn’t know about this condition myself.  You are welcome, it’s good to know that the information I put out there is useful.  Have a great day!


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