A woman on the east coast recently shared the following with me. She said that when her dog was diagnosed with SARD her veterinary ophthalmologist insisted there was no known cause or cure and also issued a warning. “If you find anything on the internet to the contrary it’s a scam. Someone is just trying to make money off you.”
I’m not sure if the ophthalmologist’s statements would be classified as slander or defamation, but I do know this. As a general rule, the ophthalmic veterinary community is withholding information from you. And after hearing the comments above, it’s time to address this.
Here are the facts.
In 2003 a research paper was presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. This study was conducted in part by the prestigious Department of Endocrinology at the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The paper demonstrated that 9 out of 10 SARD dogs had elevated levels of adrenal sex hormones.
In 2007 these findings were substantiated when the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) published two additional papers describing elevated levels of adrenal sex hormones in SARD dogs. These papers were written and presented at the ACVO meeting by me, Caroline Levin.
In 2008 the laboratory findings of 54 SARD dogs were made public. This paper demonstrated that 53 of 54 SARD dogs had elevated adrenal sex hormone levels. Results were compiled from four laboratories: the University of Tennessee, Cornell University, Antech Diagnostics and National Veterinary Diagnostic Services.
In 2009 the findings from the endocrinology services at the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine were updated and published in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association. They demonstrated that 11 of 13 SARD dogs had elevated adrenal sex hormone levels.
So, for 15 years the ophthalmic veterinary community has been aware — via data published in their own academic journal and elsewhere — that an adrenal sex hormone problem exists in virtually all SARD dogs.
Did the veterinary ophthalmologist mentioned above provide such information to the dog owner? No. Not only was the client denied this information, she was warned not to investigate further. It reminds me of the line from Shakespeare, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
How about you? Did your veterinary ophthalmologist tell you there is a high incidence of elevated sex hormones in these dogs? Did he/she suggest that you investigate this issue with your general practice veterinarian? Did he/she suggest a simple blood test to check your dog for elevated adrenal sex hormones?
Shall I take a guess that the answer is “No.” ?
So, there you have it. On one hand we have peer-reviewed, replicated findings, published over many years documenting an underlying adrenal problem in these dogs. On the other hand, it is the standard practice of the ophthalmic veterinary community to withhold this information from you.
Now tell me again, who is perpetrating a scam?
Carter RT, Bentley E, Oliver JW, Miller PE, Herring IP. Elevations in Adrenal Sex Hormones in Canine Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS). Proceedings of the 34th Annual Meeting of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists 2003;34: 40. (Scroll down to abstract #51 if you use the link.)
Levin C. Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration, Associated Pattern of Adrenal Activity, and Hormone Replacement in Three Dogs – a Retrospective Study. Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists 2007; 38: 32. (Scroll down to abstract #28 if you use the link.) Full text available here.
Levin C. Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration, Associated Pattern of Adrenal Activity, and Hormone Replacement in a Brittany Spaniel – Case Report. Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists 2007; 38: 33. (Scroll down to abstract #29 if you use the link.) Full text available here.
Levin C. Adrenal Exhaustion and Immunoglobulin Suppression: Common Findings in 54 Dogs with Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration (SARD). Copyright © 2008 Lantern Publications.
Carter RT, Oliver JW, Stepien RL, Bentley E. Elevations in Sex Hormones in Canine Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS). Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 2009; 45: 207-214.